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Readers hope recipes come close to fondly remembered pecan-crusted chicken

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Earlier this month, Leslie Hancock was hoping someone might have a recipe for the pecan chicken with mustard sauce once served at Haley's Restaurant, a Cajun eatery near Confusion Corner. We haven't found that specific recipe, but I did track down some pecan chicken recipes, which I hope might be close.

This week, we're still looking for recipes for plum kºchen, the kind made with yeast. And with school starting soon, I'd love to see suggestions for anything your kids really like for lunch. If you can help with a recipe request, have your own request, or a favourite recipe you'd like to share, send an email to, fax it to 697-7412, or write to Recipe Swap, c/o Alison Gillmor, Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave. Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6. Please include your first and last name, address and telephone number.

Pecan Chicken Strips

700 g (about 1 1/2 lb) boneless, skinless chicken breasts

75 ml (1/3 cup) all-purpose flour

10 ml (2 tsp) chili powder, divided

2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt

2 ml (1/2 tsp) pepper

2 eggs

375 ml (11/2 cups) pecans, very finely chopped

125 ml (1/2 cup) panko crumbs

Honey Mustard Sauce

125 ml (1/2 cup) Dijon mustard

125 ml (1/2 cup) honey

30 ml (2 tbsp) mayonnaise

15 ml (1 tbsp) lemon juice

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 220 C (425 F). Between wax paper or plastic wrap, pound chicken with flat side of meat pounder or rolling pin to 1 cm (1/2 inch) thickness. Cut each breast lengthwise on diagonal into 4 strips. In shallow dish, whisk together flour, 5 ml (1 tsp) chili powder, salt and pepper. In bowl, beat eggs. In another shallow dish, whisk together pecans, panko and remaining chili powder. Dip chicken strips into flour, shaking off excess. Dip into eggs. Dredge in pecan mixture to lightly coat, pressing to adhere. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake until golden and no longer pink inside, about 25 minutes.

Tester's notes: These were tasty and simple. I like the ease of cooking the strips in the oven, and I know many cooks swear by the three-step coating process, which involves a dip in flour, then liquid and then crumbs. I also liked that the panko gave added crunch and tempered the strong pecan flavour just a bit. In an informal taste test (involving just me and some kids), this recipe came out on top.

Pecan-Crusted Chicken Breasts

250 ml (1 cup) pecans

30 ml (2 tbsp) cornstarch

5 ml (1 tsp) dried thyme

5 ml (1 tsp) paprika

5 ml (1 tsp) salt

Pinch cayenne

1 egg

30 ml (2 tbsp) water

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 600 g or 1 1/3 lbs. in all)

45 ml (3 tbsp) vegetable oil

Mustard-mayo dipping sauce:

250 ml (1 cup) mayonnaise

30 ml (2 tbsp) grainy mustard

2 ml (1/2 tsp) white wine vinegar

2 ml (1/2 tsp) sugar

30 ml (2 tbsp) chopped fresh parsley

Pinch cayenne

In food processor, pulse the pecans with cornstarch, thyme, paprika, salt and cayenne until the nuts are finely chopped. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. In small bowl, whisk together egg and water. Dip each chicken breast into the egg mixture and then into the nut mixture. In a large nonstick frying pan, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the chicken and cook for 5 minutes. Turn and continue cooking until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through, 5-7 minutes longer. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, sugar, parsley and cayenne. Serve the chicken with the mustard dipping sauce.

Tester's notes: This recipe makes for a very crunchy, nutty coating, but it can be a little tricky to cook. You need to handle the chicken pieces gently or the coating can come off. As well, if the pecan coating over-browns, it can become bitter, so you need to regulate the heat carefully. You need to start off with high enough heat to yield a good crisp coating, but you might need to reduce the heat so the chicken can cook through without burning. I ended up finishing the breasts in the oven.

The dipping sauce is quite rich, so I might decrease the mayo and increase the mustard.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 27, 2014 C5

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