The Pantry: Walnut Crusted Chicken over Dressed Greens

Pickiness abounds in my house.  For the most part, there are meals over which we can all come together peaceably, and I usually fix those on a day-to-day basis.  However, since I like to occasionally experiment with other things or just plain eat something different than our standard fare, I sometimes end up cooking the same meal three different ways so that everyone gets something they want out of it.

Case in point, the walnut crusted chicken for this recipe.  Initially, I was making my own rendition of chicken cordon blue, but I knew that there was absolutely no way on the planet my son– who would most certainly eat all of the ingredients separately–would ever eat chicken rolled up with what is essentially fancy ham and fancy cheese.  He simply wouldn’t do it.  And I have to tell you, when I offered him a taste of the other, I was indeed turned down.

So where exactly does this salad come from?  I designed it to make use of the leftovers.  I was making a lot of chicken-1.66 pounds of it.    This is to explain why, when you look at the pictures, the amounts you see are a little different than in my written recipe below– I was trying to create three different dishes in one go.  Hopefully, it won’t be too confusing.

Walnut Crusted Chicken over Dressed Greens

Ingredients:

2 tbsp flour

1/2 tsp salt, divided

1/2 tsp pepper, divided

1/4 cup unseasoned bread crumbs

1/8 cup walnuts

1 egg

1 tbsp water

1 skinless boneless chicken breast

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil

2 slices good bread

2 cups mixed baby greens

1 tbsp bottled Italian dressing

Directions:

1.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and then set up your breading station for your chicken.  In the first dish, you want a mixture of flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.

In your second dish,  whisk together your egg and water.  Remember–I was making a lot of chicken, so there’s a lot more egg in this shot than you’d have.

In the third dish, you’ll want your walnut breading.  In a blender, pulse together the breadcrumbs and walnuts until they are the consistency of fine breadcrumbs.  I’d like to have left some of the walnut pieces a little larger for a bigger crunch, but boy doesn’t like nuts, so I didn’t want him to be able to see that they were in the dish.  I’m a tricky mom like that.

Pour them into a dish large enough to coat your chicken.  Stir in 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper–add more if you want more seasoning.  I knew that I was going to be using other ingredients that would up the flavor of the dishes significantly, and I don’t like overly salty food.

2.  Time to pound out your chicken.  Ever flatten a piece of chicken?  It’s therapeutic.

Lay a large piece of waxed paper on your counter.  Top that piece of paper with your chicken breast.

Then lay a second large piece of waxed paper over the chicken breast.

Using the flat side of a mallet (or something heavy– a rolling pin, a large soup can),

pound the chicken out evenly until it is about half an inch in thickness.

Then remove the waxed paper,

And place your chicken on a plate.  Did I mention that I was making a lot of chicken?

Breading station final line-up:

(1) chicken, (2) seasoned flour, (3) egg dip, (4) seasoned walnut breadcrumbs, and (5) a plate to allow the breaded chicken a pace to sit.  I sat a cooling rack on top of my last plate so that the breading didn’t become mushy under the chicken.

3.  Take your flattened chicken breast, and dredge it in the flour, shaking off any additional flour.

Then dip the floured chicken breast in the egg-wash.

Let the excess egg drip off, and dip the chicken in the breadcrumb mixture.  I use my hands for this, but I’m sure you would be fine using a fork or tongs.

Finally, set your chicken down on the rack to await its turn on the stove top.

4.  In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt butter and add oil.

When the butter is fully melted (try not to let it burn over the heat– it can happen fast), drop in the breaded chicken breast.

After a minute or two or three, flip the chicken.

When both sides of the chicken are golden brown, remove the chicken to a sheet pan.  I covered mine with a grill grate to allow the chicken an opportunity not to get mushy.  I really don’t like mushy breaded chicken.

Then bake the chicken in the oven for about 10 minutes.  Certainly check to make sure the chicken is thoroughly cooked.  When you take it out of the oven, pick the thickest point to cut into, and make sure the meat is white and any juices run clear.  Raw chicken is not yummy.

Allow the chicken to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing it for the salad. I sliced mine into strips that were a little less than an inch-and-a-half long and half-an-inch wide.

5.  Take 2 slices of good bread.  I had some leftover Chicago Italian Bread, but I’d do this with French bread or sourdough, too.

I thoroughly cleaned this counter top off  before I even thought of sitting this bread on it.  Raw chicken germs are yucky.

Take your bread and toss it onto a cookie sheet, baking it in the oven at 375 until the bread is golden brown.  Try not to forget it’s in there.  I am a notorious bread-burner.

6.  Take your 2 cups of mixed baby greens ( I had a mix of baby spinach, radicchio, arugula, frisee, and romaine), and wash them thoroughly–even if the bag says you don’t have to.  Do it anyway.

I shake mine in a colander and set them on top of paper towels to dry them.  Then dump ’em in a salad large salad bowl.

Top the greens with your toasted croutons.  Can you tell that I almost forgot they were in the oven?  I didn’t season my croutons, because the dressing I was using had so much flavor, and I knew the croutons would soak up a lot of the dressing.

Take your favorite bottled Italian dressing (and, no, I am not a sponsor or spokesperson for this company–it’s just my Italian dressing of choice), and toss a tablespoon of it into your salad.

7.  All you have to do now is serve it up. Put about a half cup of salad onto your salad plate, and top it with a few slices of the walnut crusted chicken.

If I had thought of it when I was taking the pictures, I’d have added a sprinkle of shredded Parmesan cheese.    I think some sliced black olives would make a great addition to the salad as well.

Yield: 4 servings (2 if you’re REALLY hungry)

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