Sunday, February 7, 2010

Pecan-Crusted Chicken

A few years ago for Christmas, Nate gave me Rachael Ray's 30-Minute Get Real Meals. I haven't made much out of it, so I wanted to give one of the recipes a try. The side dish for the recipe is a celeriac (celery root--a very weird-looking vegetable) and parsnip smash. It's a low-carb cookbook, so a lot of the recipes are protein-focused with low-carb side dishes.

I thought the "smash" turned out pretty good. The pecan-crusted chicken was tasty, but something didn't quite turn out right. We didn't pan fry the chicken in as much oil as the recipe called for, so it didn't get quite as crispy as it probably should have. I'm not sure it made a difference, but we cut up chicken breasts into smaller pieces rather than using chicken tenders. Also, you're supposed to serve the chicken over a bed of mixed greens but we just had side salads.

Pecan-Crusted Chicken with Celeriac-Parsnip Smash
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-in. chunks
2 small bulbs celeriac (celery root), about 1.5 pounds, completely trimmed and peeled, cut into 1-in. chunks
1/2 to 3/4 cup heavy cream or half-and-half (I used skim milk)
2 tbs. butter
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups pecan halves, ground in food processor until finely chopped, like bread crumbs
1/2 teas. cayenne pepper
2 eggs lightly beaten
2 lbs. chicken tenders
1/2 cup vegetable oil (eyeball it)

For the celeriac-parsnip smash, place parsnips and celeriac in a sauce pan and add enough water to cover. Add a little salt and bring to a boil over high heat; cook until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and then return to the pot. Smash the cooked root vegetables with a fork or potato masher to desired consistency. Add the cream and butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. While the smash is cooking, prepare the chicken.

In a shallow dish, combine the ground pecans and the cayenne pepper. In another shallow dish, place the lightly beaten eggs. Put the chicken tenders in the eggs, coating them completely. Draw them from the eggs, allowing the excess eggs to drip off. Place the egg-coated chicken in the nut mixture and coat completely.

Heat a large skillet with the oil over medium heat. As soon as you see a little ripple in the oil, add the pecan-coated chicken. Cook on each side for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate lined with a paper towel and season with salt while still hot.

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