Hazelnut Crusted Chicken Breasts

In my former life as a chef, I make this chicken often in the fall/winter months. I think it’s excellent, not difficult to do and would also make an excellent main course when entertaining. We are fortunate enough to have access to local hazelnuts so why not make delicious things with them!  I am fond of serving barley pilaf as a side dish.

Makes 6 Servings

6 boneless chicken breast halves, pounded out to make them an even thickness
½ cup unbleached flour
2 eggs
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 cups fine fresh breadcrumbs**
1 ½ cups toasted hazelnuts** finely chopped (in the processor)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. canola oil

In a shallow glass dish, beat the eggs with salt & pepper. In another shallow dish, combine the breadcrumbs & chopped hazelnuts. (You may not need all the crumbs, so start with half of them, adding more as needed; the unused crumbs can be frozen for another time). Place the flour onto a large piece of wax paper.

Wipe the chicken pieces dry with paper towels. Dip both sides into the flour, shaking off excess. Then dip into the eggs & then into the crumb mixture.
TIP: I usually do this ahead. I place a baking cooling rack inside a rimmed baking sheet, then place the chicken as it is coated onto the rack & place in the fridge until I am ready to cook them.

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oil & butter. When hot, add the chicken breasts and lightly brown on both sides. They will not be cooked through. Remove to an oiled rimmed baking sheet & place in the oven until cooked through, checking by cutting into one to see if it is no longer pink.

TIP: You can brown the chicken, place it on the rimmed baking sheet up to l hour ahead then heat until cooked through in the oven.

While the chicken is baking in the oven, make the sauce.

For The Sauce:

¼ cup brandy
¼ cup minced shallots
1 cup chicken stock** or unsalted chicken broth
1 Tbsp. grainy Dijon mustard
½ cup whipping cream
2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Place the uncleaned skillet the chicken was browned in over medium heat until hot. Add the shallots & sauté until softened. Deglaze the pan with the brandy, scraping up bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil. Add the chicken stock and reduce down by half. Add the whipping cream and reduce until thickened to a sauce consistency. Turn the heat down to a simmer. Whisk in the mustard. Just before serving, add the lemon juice.

To serve, place a chicken breast half on each plate and top with some of the sauce.

**If you would like to make the barley pilaf, please go to Barley Pilaf.

**If you would like to make stock, please go to Making Stock and for breadcrumbs Making Breadcrumbs.

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