There was a really weird coincidence tied to my making this dish when I did. When I used to live in Louisiana, there was one of those grocery/restaurant/take-out places (Foodies), where I first had stuffed artichokes and buttermilk pecan fried chicken. They also had the tallest baked macaroni and cheese I have ever seen, and some of the coolest breads ever! Anyhow, every once in a while, I would stop in on my way home from work and pick up a piece of chicken or something for dinner. Sadly, I went to pull in one day and was gobsmacked to see that they were gone. :(
The chicken ties into my favorite example of why I have to fall asleep with the TV on - preferably running a tape of something I've seen before. That gives my brain a chance to shut down during a commercial, knowing I won't be missing anything since I've already seen it. If I read, I can't put the book down and am up all night. If I listen to music, my radio/alarm won't wake me up in the morning - I'll just incorporate it into what I'm dreaming. If I watch something I haven't seen before, I'll be too interested in seeing the outcome to fall asleep. If all is quiet, my brain runs in crazy directions and won't shut down. Such as ...
One night back in 1999, I was thinking about having ordered Chicken Parmesan for lunch, which made me think of Foodies, and the Buttermilk Pecan Fried Chicken. That made me think of trying to make it sometime, maybe with a combination of coconut and pecans, because another restaurant I loved back in MA made an awesome coconut chicken with a raspberry dipping sauce. Then I started thinking about food allergies and how many people can't eat peanuts. Some people can die from peanuts like others from bee stings. That led to thinking about how sad it is that kids nowadays have to be super-cautious about lunches at school, etc. Then I started to wonder, since we don't necessarily share allergies with our parents, could some instances of pre-natal death be attributed to a pregnant woman eating foods containing peanuts? Would that be possible? Has a study ever been done? Has anyone else in the world even thought about that before? I actually had to get up to look it up because it was that distracting! A study HAD been done, but apparently, they couldn't attributed any miscarriages to peanut consumption. See why I don't sleep? I have a very weird interior monologue running all the time.
So what was the weird coincidence? The morning after I made this dish, for the first time since that stream of consciousness attempt to fall asleep in 99, I was driving to work and heard on the radio the results of a new study showing that children are more likely to have potentially life-threatening allergies to peanuts if their mother consumes peanuts during pregnancy. How freakin' weird is that?!?!? You would think it would be the other way around - the Mom eating it would build up an immunity in the kid. Kinda scary.
It's been so long since I had that chicken that I can't remember it well enough to try and duplicate it. I decided to try for something in that realm, but not fried. I was actually quite pleased, but I think next time, I'll pound the cutlets thinner. I usually buy breasts and pound them myself, but I happened to see a good deal on cutlets that day, so I went with those, as is. They did turn out very juicy and tender.
2 lb chicken cutlets
1/2 c plain yogurt
1 T honey
1/4 t cayenne pepper
2/3 c Panko crumbs *
1 1/2 c ground pecans
1/2 c grated Parmesan
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, and season with a little salt and pepper.
- Stir together the yogurt, honey, and cayenne pepper.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the Panko, nuts, and Parmesan.
- Coat the chicken with the yogurt mixture, then roll in the crumbs and press to adhere.
- Bake at 350 for about 40" until juices run clear.
* The Panko may look odd to some of you in the pic but totally normal to others. Up until recently, whenever I have purchased Panko crumbs, they have been almost like if you smashed a Butterfinger candy bar - kinda like little shards. This particular brand is shaped more like fish tank pebbles, with smooth rounded edges. If I end up with this kind again, I'll probably give it a quick pulse in the food processor. I like the crispiness of Panklo over regular bread crumbs, but I don't want them to be too big. I'll make the pecans smaller too. I was afraid of over processing them.
The combination of honey and the pecans gave this dish a slightly sweet maple taste. There was just enough cayenne to make itself known, without being overpowering.