A friend told me about this Bon Appetit recipe from 1998 and said that it had become one of her favorite chicken dishes of all time. And I can understand why! It is, in a nutshell, “scrumptious”! Between the tender chicken, crunchy crust and the delectable mustard cream sauce – what’s not to love?
Further – with a bit of advance preparation the actual cooking time is only minutes. Here’s the game plan for the prep: 1) Make the pistachio-panko crust in food processor ahead of time (up to a day) and keep well covered (ziplock bag would be perfect or plastic wrap secured tightly over a bowl). 2) Make the mustard sauce before you cook the chicken. This can also be done a day in advance – just keep covered and refrigerated. Reheat before serving.
Some keys to success: 1) Although you are going to make the crust in a food processor – don’t chop too finely. You want to see little bits of the green pistachios in the crust. Not only for the visual contrast but also for the terrific crunch. 2) Pound the chicken to a 1/4- 1/3″ even thickness. This way they will cook evenly and quickly which is important – you don’t want a burned crust and nuts tend to brown very quickly. 3) Don’t add salt to the crust mixture – the pistachios will contribute enough on their own. 4) Use Panko, not regular breadcrumbs, for the crust mixture. Panko is a Japanese breadcrumb that is extremely dry and has much larger flakes. Which results in a bigger ‘crunch’.
Pistachio Crusted Chicken (adapted from Bon Appetit, June 1998)
- 1 cup shelled, raw, pistachios (about 4 oz.)
- 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
- 2 Tbsp. fresh basil (or 2 tsp. dried)*
- 1 Tbsp. fresh dill (or 1 tsp. dried)
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
- 4 T. olive oil, divided
- In a food processor combine nuts, Panko and herbs. Pulse (using on/off turns) until the pistachios look like very small pebbles (so not finely ground). Put mixture in a large plate or shallow dish.
- Pat the chicken breast dry. Pound the breasts 1/4″ – 1/3″ thickness (If the breasts are very large cut into 2 pieces). Spread one side of the breast with the Dijon mustard and then put that side down in the panko mixture. Press down to ensure that mixture adheres. Flip chicken breast over and pat mixture over the remaining side.
- Spray a 12″ pan with non-stick cooking spray. Add 2 Tbsp. of olive oil to the pan and place over medium heat until the oil shimmers. Then add 1/2 of the chicken breasts to the pan, mustard side down. Cook for 2 – 4 minutes and take a peek (at 2 minutes) to see if they browned nicely. When they do (don’t let them burn) turn them over and finish cooking them, another 5 – 8 minutes. Remove to plate and tent with foil.
- Remove pan from heat and, with wadded up paper towels, wipe out the pan. You don’t want to have any burned bits in the pan. Spray again with non-stick spray and then return to heat and add the remaining 2 Tbsp. of olive oil. Cook remaining chicken as described above.
Mustard Cream Sauce
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots**
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil (or 1/4 tsp. dried)
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill (or 1/4 tsp. dried)
- Boil white wine and shallots in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until liquid just about evaporates, a few minutes.
- Reduce heat to medium-high. Add whipping cream and simmer 2 minutes. Add Dijon mustard and herbs. Simmer another 2 minutes to blend flavors. Season sauce with salt and pepper.
* Herbs, fresh or dried, can get pricey. Feel free to use only basil or only dill.
**Shallots are a relative of the onion but have a milder, sweeter taste. They are often used, finely chopped, in salad dressings and sauces.