Weekend Recipe: Nut-Crusted Chicken Cutlets with Lemon and Thyme

This is one of those comfort-food substitutes that's just a little healthier than the original -- you can pretend this recipe from America's Test Kitchen is non-greasy, very flavorful fried chicken or chicken tenders. Simple and crowd-pleasing!

Photo courtesy America's Test Kitchen
Photo courtesy America's Test Kitchen

Nut-Crusted Chicken Cutlets with Lemon and Thyme
Serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6 to 8 ounces each), trimmed of excess fat (see note)
Kosher salt
1 cup roughly chopped almonds (see note)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 medium shallot, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
1 cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
2 teaspoons finely grated zest from 1 lemon, zested lemon cut into 4 wedges
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Using fork, poke thickest half of each breast 5 to 6 times. Place on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and evenly sprinkle each breast with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/4 teaspoon table salt). Refrigerate, uncovered, while preparing coating.

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Process nuts in food processor until they resemble coarse meal, about 20 one-second pulses. Heat butter in 12-inch skillet over medium heat; cook, swirling pan constantly, until butter turns golden brown and has nutty aroma, 4 to 5 minutes. Add shallot and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/4 teaspoon table salt); cook, stirring constantly, until just beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, add panko and ground nuts; cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer panko mixture to shallow dish or pie plate and stir in lemon zest, thyme, and cayenne.

Lightly beat eggs, mustard and black pepper together in second shallow dish or pie plate. Place flour in third shallow dish or pie plate. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Working with 1 piece at a time, dredge chicken breast in flour, shaking off excess, then coat with egg mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Coat all sides of chicken with panko mixture, pressing gently so that crumbs adhere. Transfer breaded chicken to clean wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and repeat with remaining chicken.

Bake until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 160 degrees, 20 to 25 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving with lemon wedges.

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