Baked walnut-encrusted chicken

In trying to eat healthier, I’m looking for different alternatives to “old favorites.” I love crispy fried chicken, but am now concerned about the high amount of fat and cholesterol. This recipe is a great compromise because it retains the crispness of fried chicken, but uses very little oil, butter or fat in the cooking. I also liked making this dish because it was relatively easy and didn’t require a whole lot of prep, which is great if you’re interested in making a quick weeknight meal. To keep with the health theme, I served the chicken with a side salad

Ingredients (serves 2):
2 chicken breasts, pounded thin.
1 cup of walnut pieces, pounded finely – you can throw them into a food processor. I don’t have one because my kitchen is miniscule, so I just pound a bag of Diamond shelled walnuts.
1/2  cup of bread crumbs – fresh crumbs are best, but I use store-bought.
1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
2 egg whites
2 tbl of mustard – any kind of mustard you prefer – I like brown or horseradish mustard. I’m not sure the ballpark neon yellow kind would work with this recipe
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 F and line a baking dish with foil for easy clean-up. Drizzle some olive oil and spread to avoid sticking when you bake the chicken.

So to save time, I buy the chicken breasts already pounded and sliced thin. If you have time and want to save money you can buy chicken breasts yourself and remove the skin and pound the chicken between two pieces of Saran Wrap. You’ll want to pound it to about half an inch.

In a shallow bowl, but in the egg whites. I don’t use the yolks anymore for two reasons: 1) the yolks are high in cholesterol and 2) a crust made with egg whites is crisper. I learned this from Cooks Illustrated’s America’s Test Kitchen on PBS. Beat the egg whites slightly, just make sure you don’t overbeat or you get meringue. Mix in the mustard and stir well until the mustard is well-incorporated into the egg white.

In another shallow bowl or pie pan, mix the parmesan cheese, bread crumbs and walnuts. Grind some pepper and make sure the dry ingredients are well mixed.

Take each chicken breast and pat dry. Dip in the egg white and let the excess egg white drip off. Then dredge in the walnut mixture. Make sure you press the coating onto the chicken. Place on the lightly-oiled, foil-lined baking sheet and repeat with the other piece of chicken. I let the chicken sit for about 15 minutes to let the coating dry and set. The place in the oven and cook for about 35 minutes, or until a meat thermometer registers 135 F when you stick it into the thickest part of the meat.

Take the chicken out, tent it with foil and let it sit for about 10 minutes. While the chicken is settling, I make the salad. Jewel (or Albertson’s, depending on where you live) has a great herb-greens mix that has some arugula, lettuce, parsley, raddichio. I drizzle a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, grind some pepper and sprinkle some parmesan cheese. Serve the salad with the chicken. Oh, and enjoy.


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