I play with my food and it leads me to interesting places, like a coating for pan fried chicken breasts that adds a particular kind of crunch and flavor not found in regular southern style recipes. By using hazelnuts and almonds in the coating mixture what you get is fried chicken with attitude!

2 split boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup oil for frying ( I use grape seed, but canola or vegetable oil will work just as well)
1 cup Japanese bread crumbs (panko)
1/4 cup roasted/unsalted almonds
1/4 cup roasted/unsalted hazelnuts (filberts)
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon oregano
salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon of each)
1/4 cup milk 
one egg
2 tablespoon water

Lay breast pieces flat on a board and cut them in half like you would split a bagel for toasting. After they have been cut, cover them with plastic wrap and pound them to an even thickness. Put them on a plate and in the refrigerator while you put together the coating and egg wash mixtures (remember to wash your hands with soap and warm water after handling raw chicken).

The size of the crunch in the finished dish depends on the size of the nuts so don’t go crazy turning them into dust when you chop or pound them. I like to put them in a re-sealable plastic bag and use the flat side of a meat tenderizer to hammer them into small pieces. If you don’t have a meat tenderizer, use the bottom of a skillet or saucepan as a mallet.

Put the chopped nuts, panko, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper in a shallow pan. Shake to mix and set aside.

For the egg wash, crack the egg into your chosen vessel, add the milk and water and beat them together until the ingredients are fully incorporated.

Dredge the chicken pieces through the wash until they are fully coated on each side. I remove the excess wash by running the fillet between my fingers like a squeegee. Put the fillets directly into the coating mixture and press to insure everything sticks. Repeat on second side. Once you have coated all four pieces choose a skillet that will hold all four pieces, or at least two at time, without crowding. Heat the pan to medium high and add the oil. Wait about a minute for the oil to come to temperature before adding the chicken pieces. To test that the oil is hot enough, put just the tail end of the fillet in the oil. If it starts to bubble right away, the oil is ready. Cook about four minutes on each side.

The choice of side dishes to accompany this dish are nearly endless. Hash browns and some fresh green beans would be good. I like to saute some spinach with a bit oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to put under slices of the chicken. I would also recommend roasted or saute of asparagus or some mashed sweet potatoes.

If there are leftovers, this chicken (cold), cut into strips, and dunked in barbecue sauce sure beats what you get at a fast food joint. It is also a good addition to a salad or even in between a couple of slices of good bread with mayo, tomato, and something green like lettuces not so boring cousin, rocket.


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