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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Walnut Crusted Chicken Strips with Honey Mustard Sauce

When I was younger, I ate a lot of McDonald's chicken nuggets.  No, not as a kid, we lived in a small town and to go to McDonald's was a special treat sort of trip.  No, this large chicken nugget consumption happened in college and even a few years beyond.  I loved the crispy deep fried coating.  I knew this was not a healthy meal and after gaining a not so healthy 15 pounds, I waved goodbye to those delicious deep fried devils and never looked back...ok, maybe I snuck a peek over my shoulder every now and then :)  Now don't get me wrong, I still eat frozen chicken nuggets (one of my guilty pleasures) and I still love a good piece of fried chicken now and then, but I try really hard to stay away from any sort of fried chicken making at home.

I have tried a few different recipes for fried "baked" chicken and haven't been able to either find the right recipe, or master the technique.  But this recipe, this recipe turned out to be pretty fantastic.  It bakes to a nice crispiness that will make you forget it's not fried.  And once again, walnuts = omega 3 fatty acids = good for you!!!  These chicken strips are flavorful enough that you don't need a sauce to dip them in, but I'm a sauce girl and I think it just adds to the meal.

Oh, and one more thing.. these would make great snacks for your Super Bowl party :)

Walnut Crusted Chicken Strips w/Honey Mustard Sauce
Adapted from Good Housekeeping 
Non-stick cooking spray
1/2 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
1/2 cup walnuts
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, loosely packed
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (I actually used Sriracha hot chili sauce)
1 lbs. chicken breasts or cutlets, sliced into strips
Honey Mustard Sauce (optional), recipe follows


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place a wire rack in a baking sheet with a lip on it; spray rack with cooking spray. (**if you do not have a wire rack, you can either use just a cookie sheet or a broiler pan..see below for extra special instructions if using one of these)

On a large dinner plate or pie pan, combine the panko, cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. In a food processor, add the walnuts and parsley. Pulse until the walnuts are finely chopped; toss with panko mixture until well blended.

In a pie pan, whisk the egg white and Dijon until well mixed.

One at a time, dip the chicken strips into the egg white mixture, then into the walnut/panko mixture; pressing firmly to make sure mixture adheres to both sides. Arrange chicken on prepared pan. (**if you are using a cookie sheet or broiler pan, you may only want to coat one side of the chicken, the side that sits directly on the pan has a tendancy to get moist and in turn causes the coating to be soggy. Or you can turn the chicken half way through the cooking to ensure crispiness on both sides.)

Bake chicken 15-20 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the chicken is no longer pink. Serve with Honey Mustard Sauce or any dip of your choice.

Honey Mustard Sauce
1/2 cup Dijon Mustard
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
3 Tablespoons honey

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients until smooth. Store in refrigerator till ready to use.

(Nutritional Info on chicken strips only: 215 Calories, 8 grams fat, 5 grams carbohydrates, 29 grams protein, 166mg cholesterol, 280mg sodium)

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