Georgia Pecan Crusted Chicken Breasts
- Yield 4 to 6 servings
Brining, or soaking poultry in salted water before cooking, will put an end to tasteless white meat and rubbery dark meat: brined poultry loses only half as much moisture during cooking as unbrined.
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
- 4 cups buttermilk
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 6 ounces each)
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1/2 cup panko (Japanese) or fresh breadcrumbs
- 3/4 cup finely chopped Georgia pecans
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, then set a large wire rack on the foil.
- To make the brine, combine the salt, sugar, paprika, garlic, and bay leaves in a large nonreactive container. Add the buttermilk and stir until salt is completely dissolved. Immerse the chicken breasts in the brine and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. (Do not brine any longer or refrigerate, or the chicken will be too salty.)
- Meanwhile, combine the panko and pecans in a shallow dish. Add the oil and toss well to coat. In a second shallow dish, combine the eggs, mustard, and thyme. Season both mixtures with pepper.
- Working 1 piece at a time, remove the chicken from the brine and shake off any excess liquid. Dip the chicken in the egg mixture, coating both sides. Place the breasts in the breadcrumb mixture, sprinkle with crumbs to cover, and press so the coating adheres; turn the chicken over and repeat the process. Gently shake off any excess crumbs. Place the coated breasts on the rack set on the baking sheet. Bake until the chicken is golden brown and the juices run clear, 20 to 25 minutes.
Recipe courtesy of the Georgia Pecan Commission