Saturday, February 21, 2015

Pistachio Crusted Chicken

I find it hard to describe the flavor of this pistachio crust, sweet, salty, crunchy, and just over all high in YUM factor. The original recipe called for ¼ cup of parsley, and I have replaced half of that with basil. I love the flavor of basil, but I also really like parsley for its health benefits including improved digestion and lowering inflammation. This recipe would be great either way, all parsley, or all basil. Combining a little of both creates a well rounded crust.

This crust also really helps keep the chicken moist during baking. I like to trim each chicken breast into a couple pieces so as to increase the surface area covered with the pistachio mix.  This could work really well with chicken tenders also.

Makes 4 servings   (Makes enough to bread 1½ to 2 pounds chicken)

1 cup roasted, unsalted pistachios
1½ tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
2 tbsp packed fresh basil leaves
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp salt, plus extra
4 chicken breasts, about 1½ to 2 pounds total


Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Place pistachios, garlic powder, parsley, basil, pepper and salt in the food processor. 
Process until a smooth meal is formed, about 30 to 40 seconds. 

Transfer to a sided, flat bottomed baking dish, suitable for breading the chicken.

Trim breasts to remove any fatty edges and separate the tender if needed.  Lay the breast on a cutting board and, similar to “butterflying”, place your hand flat on the breast to hold it still, and with the edge of a knife parallel to the cutting board, carefully slice the thickest part the breast in half width wise, cutting all the way through. This will leave you with one large piece and a smaller piece that are about the same thickness. Cut the large piece in half to create three similarly sized pieces.

Coat chicken by pressing pieces into pistachio meal, one at a time, coating all sides and pressing down on the breasts with your hands to make sure the coating stays on the chicken. Gently shake chicken to remove any loose coating. Place in large baking dish. Repeat until all pieces are done.
**TIP: if the pistachio crust doesn’t seem to stick to the chicken, or if the crust is super clumpy, it might be too moist. Add 1 tsp brown rice flour and 1 tsp tapioca flour, give the pistachio meal a good stir to incorporate the flour and try again. Add one more teaspoon of each flour if needed.

Heat large saute pan over medium high heat. Add 1 tbsp olive oil, and once hot (oil should move quickly across pan when tipped), add 3 to 4 pieces of chicken to pan without overcrowding, cook for 1 to 2 minutes until crust is browned, then flip and cook the other side. 

TIP: Use a flat spatula to flip the chicken when browning in the pan. If you use tongs, you may lose some of the crust as it tends to stick to the tongs.

Place cooked pieces back into baking dish and repeat until all chicken is browned. Place baking dish in oven for 25 minutes, (depending on thickness of pieces, could take up to 30 to 35 minutes) internal temp should be 160 degrees. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Because this chicken tends to have a rich and slightly sweet taste, I would serve it with less fatty foods like an arugula salad, some steamed broccoli or sauteed kale, mashed or roasted cauliflower or a little buttered pasta. 

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