Monday, February 23, 2009

Almost like being in New York: Pretzel-crusted chicken

alone

I don't know if it's a New York thing or what, but I'm mildly obsessed with the street pretzel. There's no real explanation for it; street pretzels are uniformly dry, too salty/not salty enough, and unvaryingly stale within seconds. However, slathered in mustard, they're still one of my favorite afternoon treats. They're also, for the aforementioned reasons, sometimes a little too gross for me to deal with. It's on those days that I start to consider how I can bring a slightly less scary version of those flavors into my life; it took a very long and taxing week to finally inspire me to do something about it.

I had a dim recollection of a recipe for pretzel-crusted chicken in the November or December issue of Food and Wine; though I couldn't find the actual clipping in my files, a quick spin through the interwebs turned up this, which seemed as good a place as any to start. Naturally, I didn't follow the recipe to a tee; I omitted the oil, replacing it with a buttermilk and mustard marinade, and I swapped out the chicken breasts in favor of my new favorite poultry product, boneless chicken thighs. I also added in some thyme for zing, and (unsurprisingly) a tiny bit of raw garlic (emphasis on "tiny"). The alterations were minor, but the impact was massive--what I ended up with was a low fat powerhouse of flavor: oven baked, tangy, zingy, crunchy, moist and with far more nutritional merit than your average street pretzel.

together

Flavor-wise, I am very happy with how this turned out; the texture was also very pleasing...though I'll admit: next time, I'm probably going to go whole hog and pulverize the damn pretzels with a hammer. Food processors are great and all, but sometimes you need to work up an appetite, you know?

Pretzel-crusted honey mustard chicken
Adapted from Food and Wine, November 2008

1/2 lb hard pretzels, coarsely crushed
3/4c buttermilk
1/2 c wholegrain mustard
1/8 c honey
1 very, very small clove garlic (the sort that lurks near the heart of the bulb), finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
salt and pepper
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 egg, lightly beaten
  1. Prepare your marinade: combine buttermilk, mustard, honey, thyme, salt and pepper. Mis thorougly and then combine with chicken in a ziptop bag. Marinate in the fridge for up to a day.
  2. Smash the pretzels in your food processor (or with a hammer, if you've had a bad week). You should have fine crumbs and large chunks. Put in a shallow bowl and set aside.
  3. When you're ready to cook, preheat your oven to 400F. Remove the chicken from the fridge and from the marinade; set aside. Combine egg with marinade and mix thoroughly; use this mixture to dredge the chicken thighs before coating them in pretzel chunks. Be sure to coat thoroughly!
  4. Bake in the upper third of your oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the chicken's juices run clear.
  5. Optional: make a little sauce out of buttermilk, mustard and honey. DO NOT USE LEFTOVER MARINADE. Unless you like salmonella.

5 comments:

Phoo-D said...

This looks healthy and delicious. I love the flavor combination of pretzels, honey, and mustard!

Josh C said...

When marinating chicken, does one leave the chicken and marinade on the counter overnight, or in the fridge?

Also, I'm confused about the steps. Preheat oven, marinate for a day, and then cook. So leave the stove preheated overnight? :P

shiv said...

Oh, thanks for pointing that out; I'll fix it now.

catherine @ www.unconfidentialcook.com said...

What a fantastic idea! I'm a New Yorker, my daughter loves pretzels...perfect! I make a great Parmesan Chicken, all credit to Ina. It's crusted, served on a salad with lemon-y dressing.

smallkitchenbigideas said...

Sounds great!

I like to make an oven fried chicken with a mustard marinate and panko crumbs and a pretzel crust sounds like a great variation.