Recipes so good it oughta' be a sin!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pecan Crusted Chicken over Spring Mix Greens with Caramel Citrus Vinaigrette

On Friday I found out that an old high school friend would be traveling through the area. We reconnected on Facebook some time ago so she let me know she'd be in the area and we decided to have lunch. She was also traveling with her mom, whom I hadn't seen in years either.

Jamie and I co-edited our high school paper our senior year. We also worked together in the library. I hadn't seen in her in almost 27 years - the day of our graduation.

We spent a lovely afternoon catching up with each other. I decided for lunch to try a recipe for a Pecan Crusted Chicken served over Spring Mix Greens and topped with a Caramel Citrus Vinaigrette. Dessert would be my favorite Lemon Mousse.

The recipe I chose came from Food Network and was very tasty. I'd only make a couple adjustments to it for better presentation, though. The original of the recipe (given below) calls for simply marinating the chicken breast in buttermilk then rolling in crushed pecans. I found that this process didn't really hold the pecans to the chicken very well. I spent a lot of time "repairing" the crust. I think using a two step process might work better: marinating the chicken in buttermilk, dipping in flour and pecan meal mixture, dipping into buttermilk, then rolling in crushed pecans. I believe the crust would then be more secure. The next time I make this, I will try that procedure.

Regardless of the aesthetics, the meal was a hit. Everyone loved the chicken and the unusual combination of caramel and citrus in the salad dressing. The lemon mousse, as always, was well received (it is one of my favorite desserts).

The great thing about this meal is it can be done well ahead of time. I love dishes that I can do so that I don't spend the entire time my guests are here in the kitchen cooking. The chicken can be cooked up to a day ahead as well as the salad. The dressing only takes a few minutes to prepare and can be done well before the guests arrive. The mousse is best done a day ahead to chill nicely and allow the fresh lemon flavors to permeate completely. Then you can spend time enjoying your guests!

Lemon Mousse

Recipe: Pecan Crusted Chicken Over Spring Mix Greens with Caramel Citrus Vinaigrette


For the chicken:
  • 4 (4-ounce) pieces chicken breast
  • 1 1/2 cups lowfat buttermilk
  • 1 cup crushed pecan pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon oil
For the salad:
  • 1-2 bagged Spring Mix salads
  • 1 carrot, peeled and shredded
For the vinaigrette:
  • 1/3 cup caramel sauce
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 lime, zested, optional
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


For the chicken:
  1. Preheat heat oven to 400°. Place chicken and lowfat buttermilk into a plastic bag or covered dish and allow to sit for 15 minutes up to overnight.
  2. While chicken is marinating combine pecans with spices and mix well. Place mixture into a shallow dish. Remove chicken and allow excess buttermilk to drain. Coat both sides of the chicken pieces with the pecan/spice mixture.
  3. Heat a medium, 10-inch oven-proof saute pan on the stove. Using 1/2 teaspoon oil per piece, sear chicken for 1 minute on each side and then place entire pan into oven (if you do not have an oven proof saute pan simply transfer chicken to a baking sheet and proceed) for 10 to 15 minutes. When done and slightly cooled, slice. Note: chicken can be done a day ahead of time.For the greens:
  4. Wash and spin dry bagged salad, toss with carrot, set aside.
For the vinaigrette:
  1. Combine the caramel sauce with water and citrus juices and whisk. While whisking, drizzle in olive oil, lime zest, if using, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
To Assemble:
  1. Place greens in a bowl and lightly toss with 1/2 of the dressing. Mound on 4 plates and top with chicken and remaining dressing.
Total Time: 40 minutes
Number of servings (yield): 4
Meal type: dinner
Culinary tradition: USA (General)

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