Pecan Crusted Chicken

Two ways to do pecan crusted chicken that have worked out rather well for me that do not include using flour or breadcrumbs. Can easily be Paleo and gluten free! The chicken can be crusted just on top or completely...some prefer to coat just the top as pecans definitely are not cheap.

First, a long time ago in East Texas I was part of a catering company (Exclusively Yours Catering Company) that specialized in giving people exactly what they wanted when they requested. Sure we did everything from fine dining to back yard BBQ but we also replicated family recipes and created new dishes from scratch based off of our customers wants and needs. One particular time we had a party that wanted pecan crusted chicken and I was so tired of other recipes calling for flour, breadcrumbs, or some other 'gummy' substance that didn't really help the overall taste of the pecan crusted chicken which led me to my first recipe. This is scaled down to a 'family of four' scenario:

4 - 4 to 6 oz boneless skinless chicken breast
1 - cup of honey slightly heated
1 - cup of pecans chopped by hand or food processor
2 - tablespoons brown sugar (optional)
1 - tablespoon Emeril's Essence (optional, can use your favorite spice mix that is similar we had one we used to sell online called Secret Seasoning #2)

Salt to taste in dry mix before using chicken. For consistency of chopped pecans see pictures below.

**Preheat oven to 400F. If using commercial convection oven then use 350F.
Rinse and pat dry chicken breasts. Mix dry ingredients including pecans in shallow bowl or pan. Put honey on plate or in bowl and place chicken in it, flip to other side coating evenly then letting excess honey drip off. Now place chicken in dry mix with pecans pressing the chicken down, shaking bowl slightly then flip breast over and repeat. Chicken should be well coated by now. Put in baking dish or sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Repeat this process till all the chicken is done and on sheet tray. Cook in oven for 20 minutes and check temperature. 165F to 170F internal temperature is what we are looking for...let chicken rest 5 to 10 minutes then serve with honey mustard sauce. ~~

Next recipe called for a little different take on the sweet part of the chicken instead of using honey. Why? Because the honey gave the pecan crusted chicken a taste not everyone liked and the chicken coating came out a little stickier...I am not saying that is a bad thing at all, just different. I think the honey results came out more 'caramel-y' (if that's a word). This time around I used egg whites as the binder:

4 - 4 to 6 oz boneless skinless chicken breast
4 - egg white slightly beaten
1 - cup of pecans chopped by hand or food processor
2 - tablespoons brown sugar
2 - tablespoons Montreal Chicken Seasoning
1 - pinch of cayenne pepper, Cajun seasoning, chipotle, red pepper flake, or whatever form of 'heat' you like! Or none! (This is optional)

**repeat cooking instructions above substituting the egg whites for the honey. ~~

What kind of honey mustard sauce you say?

1 cup preferably local honey (more flavor)
1 cup stone ground or spicy mustard
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup of mayo

Mix together in bowl, adjust as you feel needed to your taste buds.

~~ Special shout out to Gary Hoag who I worked with when developing the first recipe! That party was a blast! Second recipe I developed and used in my current kitchen at the academy. Which also was met with excellent reviews.