Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cornmeal-Crusted Chicken Breasts with Honey-Mustard Dipping Sauce

This is the type of easy meal that I love to make during the week when I want something tasty, but I'm just not in the mood for fancy recipes that dirty up lots of pots and pans, or that require tons of time and effort.  I love boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets for this dish because they cook up quickly and easily - by the time the cornmeal crust is nice and golden brown, the cutlets inside are perfectly cooked.  If you tried to use regular chicken breasts you would either have to slice them thinly (so that the slices are about 1/3-inch thick), or pound them to the same thickness (which is something I hate doing).  In this case, I'll take the shortcut from the grocery store and use the pre-sliced cutlets.  One of the greatest things about this recipe is how versatile it is.  You can use whatever herbs and seasonings you want in your crust - this time I used fresh parsley and thyme because I like the combination of them with the Dijon mustard, but if you don't have any fresh herbs feel free to use whatever dried herbs you have in your pantry.  You can also omit the Dijon mustard entirely if it's just not your thing.  I personally think that the Dijon gives the chicken a little extra tang and some nice flavor, but that's just me.  I also like to make a dipping sauce of coarse Dijon mustard, honey, and a tiny drizzle of evoo to thin it out a bit to serve with the chicken.

We served up the chicken with the rest of the store-bought dried spaetzle (tossed lightly in evoo and freshly ground black pepper), and a simple arugula salad.  You could also serve the chicken over pasta as a sort of chicken parm, or serve it over a nice mixed greens salad.  Alex thinks that it would be equally good served with sweet potato, or regular potato fries.  He also recommended serving it with a cold pasta or potato salad.  My husband loves starch - can you tell?  This was exactly the type of light, fresh, easy, but still delicious meal that I was craving after a nice work out at the gym.  If only all of my meals came together this quickly and this successfully!

Recipe after the jump!

Cornmeal-Crusted Chicken Breasts
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal (I used organic cornmeal from our CSA)
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, minced (if you don't have fresh, use maybe 1/2 tsp dried)
2 tbsp thyme, minced (if you don't have fresh, use maybe 1/2 tsp dried)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup coarse Dijon mustard, plus 2 tbsp, separated
2 large eggs
1 lb. chicken breast cutlets
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp evoo
2 tbsp honey

Combine panko, cornmeal, Parm-Reg, parsley, thyme, and s&p together in a shallow dish for breading. In another shallow dish, whisk together 1/2 cup Dijon mustard and eggs.  Rinse chicken cutlets and pat dry with paper towels.  Dip cutlets first into mustard-egg mixture, coating well, but allowing any excess to drip off.  Then dip cutlets into breadcrumb mixture and coat well.  Gently shake off excess breadcrumbs.

Melt 1 tbsp butter with 1 tbsp in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add half of chicken to skillet - do not overcrowd.  Cook chicken until golden, about 3 minutes per side.  Repeat with remaining butter, oil and chicken.  If you want to get all of the chicken cooked at one time, go ahead and use two large skillets, rather than trying to squeeze all of the chicken in at once.  If you do cook the chicken in shifts, you can keep the first batch warm on a cookie sheet in an oven heated to 250 degrees F while you cook the second batch.

In a small bowl, mix together remaining 2 tbsp Dijon mustard and 2 tbsp honey.  If necessary, dilute the honey mustard with 1 tsp evoo.

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