This is one of the fun ways to use nuts in your cooked food. The result is often referred to as a crusted meat, giving you all the fun flavors of the walnuts and the browned goodness of them cooking together with the chicken.
Like a lot of excellent chicken dishes, this chicken dish with walnuts starts with a marinade step. Then you prep for the actual cooking phase, in this case a breading of sorts that incorporates the nuts, flour, and some spicing. Brown the meat in a skillet and finish in the oven for a great meal.
It serves well over rice, couscous, polenta or any number of side dishes.
Most people may not be aware that the term chicken breast specifically refers to both sides of the chicken’s breast meat removed from the rib and bone structure. What we are typically used to seeing in the grocery is actually called a split breast, the one sort of heart shaped piece of chicken meat. We’re not trying to be too geeky, this time anyway, but it is always nice to know the exact meaning of terms. This could be valuable if you have a store that sells mainly to the restaurant trade, and lets consumers shop there as well. You are likely to see the specific term split chicken breast.
The recipe is written for boneless skinless breast meat. You can use thigh meat if you choose. You want boneless skinless meat because it will do a better job of taking flavor from the marinade, and the breading for this dish. Your oven cooking time will drop by about a third if you choose to go with thighs. If you stay with the breast, we would recommend that you flatten the meat slightly, use a chef’s knife to press them, for more evenness to the cooking process.
This recipe is designed with walnuts in mind. They are not an especially sweet nut, so if you want to go a different direction you may want to tweak the sugar contents in various aspects of this recipe. Pecans, almonds and filberts can also work, or macadamia nuts if your budget can handle that expense.
You want the nuts well ground in pieces, but not to the stage of being flour. Try to keep them larger than the coarsest corn meal you know of. You can achieve this in a heavy plastic bag and using a rolling pin to break them down. Think just a bit finer than the nut topping thrown over an ice cream sundae.
There are so many fun mustard choices in the market. They bring richness, aromatic aspects and bold flavors. We are recommending a middle of the road flavor profile by using a brown deli style mustard. Various mustards bring different flavors into play, so having an understanding of that can help you decide if you want to use a different variety of prepared.
Hot mustards bring a sinus clearing aspect very similar to horseradish. They should be used judiciously because they can easily overpower other flavors. Sweet hot mustard is a decent choice for this dish, not as explosive as a true hot mustard, they have a lot of flavors that will compliment other aspects of this dish. Dijon and yellow mustards tend toward a vinegary tang, which is great in many cases. The risk here is that vinegar flavor may lead diners to think there is something off with the chicken being used because of that tanginess. You can certainly use a stone ground mustard. The texture will fit nicely with the ground nuts, and they carry bold flavors with them, most of which will compliment this meal. The stone ground even makes a nice look for the final glaze. That is why we suggest the arena of ‘brown’ mustards as being ideal.
Chicken with Walnuts
- 4 Split Boneless skinless chicken breasts
- ¼ Cup Olive oil
- ¼ Cup Brown deli mustard
- ¼ Cup Cooking sherry
- 1 Tablespoon Brown sugar
- 6 Garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Tablespoon Dried basil
- 1 Cup Very finely chopped walnuts
- ½ Cup All-purpose flour
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons Olive oil
- Mustard sauce
- 3 Tablespoons Brown mustard
- ⅓ Cup Maple syrup
- Parsley for garnish
- Flatten the chicken breasts if you want to
- Poke the surface with a fork 4 or 5 times on each side of each piece
- In a zip seal bag add olive oil, brown deli mustard, cooking sherry, brown sugar, garlic cloves and dried basil
- Mix contents well and add the chicken breast pieces
- Marinade in the fridge for 6 to 12 hours
- In a low sided dish or pan, mix chopped walnuts, all-purpose flour, salt and black pepper
- Preheat oven to 425
- Place an ovenproof skillet on medium heat
- Brush most, but not all, of the marinade off the chicken
- Dredge chicken pieces in flour mix until well coated
- Add olive oil to skillet, watch for smoke
- Brown chicken pieces for two minutes or so until well colored
- Turn the chicken, cover the pan loosely with foil and place in the oven
- Cook until the thickest part of the meat is at 165 degrees internal temp, about 20 minutes
- Whisk brown mustard and maple syrup together until smooth
- Chop parsley for garnish if desired
- Remove chicken from oven
- Serve to plates, drizzle sauce and add garnish, enjoy