09 September 2013

pretzel-crusted chicken, or grown-up kids' food

the other night one of my friends came over, and we re-created a movie theater smorgasboard right on my coffee table. We had Milk Duds, Twizzlers, m'n'm's, Whoppers, Bit o'Honeys, sour watermelon gummies, Tootsie Rolls, homemade popcorn with butter salt...everything a kid could ask for at the movies.

Because we are also adults who cannot subsist on candy alone, I wanted a protein that doubled as something fun. Trolling through Pinterest and Googling "movie snacks," I came across the idea of chicken baked with a pretzel crust. Not only did it sound rather like fried chicken tenders, the baking felt more healthy and allowed me to pop something in the oven and forget about it without much hassle.

Some of the recipes called for a mustard salad dressing style marinade, but I wanted something a bit more oil-free. Instead of putting the chicken strips into essentially oil with mustards, I tossed together my favorite mustards and stirred in some Greek yogurt. The same friend who came over has made a mayonnaise dressed chicken, rolled in crushed corn flake cereal and baked. It's crunchy and delicious.

This riff on pretzels and mustard and her mayo chicken brought me to a tender, juicy, crunchy, grown-up kids' version of chicken tenders. It was exactly what I wanted, and really quite easy, the two things best found in a recipe.

Pretzel-Crusted Chicken Strips
2 chicken breasts (or more depending on the number to be served), cut into 1.5" strips

2 tablespoons sweet mustard (I used Bavarian sweet, but choose the mustard in your cupboard)
2 tablespoons spicy mustard (preferably whole grain, again choose the mustard in your cupboard)
2 tablespoons standard yellow mustard
3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons water

1 cup crushed (by hand or with rolling pin) pretzels, large stick or sourdough

mix together the mustards and yogurt, then remove two or three tablespoons of the mix into a small bowl for later dipping. To that bowl mix in the honey and keep the dipping sauce in the refrigerator. Add the water to the remainder of the marinade mix, then add chicken. Ensure the mix coats the chicken entirely, then remove to the fridge for at least a half hour but up to four hours.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Crush the pretzels into small and fine pieces and place into a shallow dish. Dredge each chicken piece in the pretzels for a fairly even coating of pretzel breading. Place the chicken strips on a cooking rake, which is set in a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-20 minutes, until the outer coating is crisp and the chicken's internal temperature is 165 degrees (as per the directions of US FDA).
Serve alongside the dipping sauce and enjoy.

  "Be well. Do good work. Keep in touch." - Garrison Keillor

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