I made Pecan Crusted Chicken for our Christmas Dinner this year. I first had this recipe 4 or 5 years at a bible study cooking night that my women's bible study had back when I lived in Ohio, and it has been in my recipe box ever since.
I made this dish for Truman the first weekend he came to visit me in Colorado, just after we started dating, and he says he knew he was going to marry me after this dinner. (So, it must be good!)
I like that it is fancy enough for company or a special occasion, but not complicated, and the flavor is so delicious! The only semi-special kitchen item you need to prepare it is a broiler pan, which helps the coating get crispy. Leftovers are delicious on a salad with strawberries or mandarin orange pieces with a fruit vinegrette dressing.
On Christmas, we were so excited to eat that I realized I never took a photo of it plated or cut into, so this photo of the platter is the only one I have to share!
1 cup buttermilk (see note below for tips on buttermilk)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup finely chopped pecans (I often use mine straight from the freezer)
3/4 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs
2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (if they are extra thick, you may want to place them between saran wrap and pound them with a meat mallet to a thinner fillet to help them bake evenly)
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans (optional garnish)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine buttermilk and egg in a bowl.
Combine finely chopped pecans, breadcrumbs, salt & pepper in a separate bowl with a wider bottom.
Place flour in a third bowl. Dredge chicken in flour, coating it on both sides, dip in the buttermilk mixture, being sure to coat both sides, and let excess buttermilk mixture drip off. Dredge in pecan mixture, coating well.
Place on the rack of an ungreased broiler pan. When all of the chicken breasts have been coated and are on the pan, drizzle with the melted butter and sprinkle with the extra chopped pecans.
Bake uncovered, 30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through the the crust is lightly browned.
*Note: Buttermilk isn't something I use often, but I have a few recipes that call for it, and I learned a trick that was a helpful way to save extra left over from a recipe, or have it on hand without it going bad. Buttermilk can be frozen, and thawed in the refrigerator when you need it for a recipe. Poured into an ice cube tray, it can be frozen into smaller portioned cubes for when you only need a small amount. Freeze the cubes fully, then you can remove them from the tray and store them in a plastic freezer bag.
As an alternative to buttermilk, you can also substitute 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar plus enough milk to make 1 cup. (Let stand 5 minutes before using.)