Saturday, March 1, 2014
Parmesan Crunch Chicken Breast
Boneless, skinless chicken is convenient, healthy, fast cooking and adaptable to a wide variety of uses. The problem is that much of the chicken character is missing because the bone and skin are well, “less”. So, when we prepare these healthier alternatives to their intact relatives, we have to add some sparkle and pizzazz.
One method of reintroducing flavor and moisture is marinating. Since chicken meat alone has been stripped of much of its natural flavor providers, we have to use caution to avoid suppressing the remaining chicken taste with marinade ingredients that can overpower. The ingredients we’ve chosen in this recipe offer more of a side-note to enhance what’s left of the chicken’s built-in essence.
Another method to hold in moisture is to seal the chicken while it cooks. Frying is an excellent means to that end, but defeats the healthier benefits of B/S chicken. So we’ve firmly attached a flavorful crust that bakes on and seals in both the natural juices and the added moisture from the marinade.
By both marinating and providing a seal, the end result is a juicy, real chicken flavored, healthy choice for your dining pleasure!
Parmesan Crunch Chicken Breast
Yield: 4 Servings Preparation Time: 15 Minutes + 1 Hour Marinating Cooking Time: 20 Minutes
• 2 Tablespoons Honey
• 2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
• ½ Teaspoon Herbes de Provence
• ½ Teaspoon Kosher salt
• ¼ Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
• 4 Chicken Breast Halves, boneless & skinless
• ¾ Cup Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
• ¾ Cup Panko Breadcrumbs
• Olive Oil in a spray mister
• 2 Tablespoons Dry White Wine
• 1 Tablespoon Cold Unsalted Butter
Step 1. Preheat oven to 450ºF.
Step 2. Mix 1 tablespoon of the honey, 1 tablespoon of the mustard, the Herbes de Provence, salt and cayenne in a medium bowl. Transfer to a gallon size zippered storage bag.
Step 3. Rinse and pat chicken dry, then add to the bag with the honey mixture. Close the bag and massage the chicken to distribute the marinade evenly. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Step 4. Combine the parmesan and panko in a food processor and pulse until fine, but not powdered. Dredge the marinated chicken in the cheese and breadcrumbs to develop a thick coating all over and press to adhere the crust to the chicken.
Step 5. Arrange the chicken breasts 2” apart on a wire rack that is set on top of a baking sheet. Lightly mist the top of the chicken with the olive oil and place the pan in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes until the crust is golden then allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes undisturbed on the rack.
Step 6. While the chicken is resting, gently warm the wine in a small sauté pan over low heat. Just when the wine begins to steam, stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon each of the mustard and honey. Set the heat to a low-simmer and whisk until smooth and thickened. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cold butter whisking until melted and smooth.
Drizzle the wine sauce over the crispy chicken and let it pool beneath. A vibrantly green steamed vegetable is the perfect healthy accompaniment.
Tips and Trending
~ For even juicier more flavorful chicken, use boneless and skinless thighs instead of breasts and increase the cooking time by 10 minutes. Thigh meat also has substantially higher levels of iron and zinc than breast meat – a nutritional bonus!
~ If you don’t have a pump mister for spritzing olive oil, in a pinch you can buy olive oil in a spray can. Just read the label for one with the least amount of anything but olive oil -good luck! For the purpose of adding a very light coating of oil to a food item, I prefer a pump mister to cooking sprays which contain a host of other additives like alcohol and soy. The additives help to distribute the oils in the spray, but spraying them directly on food, especially something you want to be crunchy, can be counter-productive.
~ Just warming the wine will not reduce the alcohol content. If that is a problem, carefully bring a long match near the surface of the wine as it heats. When the alcohol ignites, remove the pan from the heat and gently swirl until the flame dies out. This is not a guarantee that all of the alcohol is gone, but most of it will burn off. To avoid alcohol altogether, use chicken stock in place of the wine.