Freshman year of High School a lunch period changed my life. A friend of mine with Russian parents brought a very peculiar sandwich to school: two slices of white bread, a lettuce leaf and a chicken cutlet coated in a fried egg. It was at that initial big-bang moment when I realized just how interested I was in food. Looking back, I spent that entire week just thinking about that egg and how exactly it got itself fried and perfectly wrapped around a piece of chicken. It was intriguing! And it launched my foray into the world of shnitzle. Baked, fried, spiced…I love a chicken and I’ve tried it all.
BUT…this is by far my favorite recipe for anything related to the nugget. Forget egg mixtures, boring bread crumbs and a bubble bath of oil. This recipe is brilliant because: #1 An egg really doesn’t have all that much flavor, and it has a high fat and calorie content. #2 I’m scared of deep frying; I don’t want to get burned or fat. And #3 This is quick, easy to manipulate and bite for bite delivers maximum flavor potential to a piece of white meat. SPOILER ALERT: The trick here is coating the chicken not in egg, not in milk, butter milk or the cream squeezed out of anything but pure flavor…mustard, spice, honey and lemon juice.
2 pieces of chicken (boneless, skinless breasts are the healthiest but feel free to foray into any body part of the chicken which intrigues you most)
1 cup panko crumbs
¼ cup mustard (the options are endless and I encourage you to explore)
1 ½ tblsp. honey
1 tblsp. soy sauce or teriyaki sauce
1 tblsp. hot sauce (the texture and hit of Siracha work best)
½ lemon squeezed to juice (i.e. actual fresh lemon, not the artificial)
Preheat your oven to 425°F. Take the chicken and pat it dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill for about 10 minutes until the chicken is just cooked through. If you don’t have a electric grill like a GeorgeForman just place the chicken on a baking sheet and into your preheated oven for about 15 minutes. It’s important to cook the chicken first so that you don’t have to worry about burning your breadcrumb topping just to cook the chicken through.
Slice the cooked chicken into thin strips, or the size and shape of your choosing. Mix together the mustard, honey, soy sauce, hot sauce and lemon juice. Brush the glaze to completely cover each piece of cooked chicken. Then dip the pieces into a bowl of the panko crumbs. You can use your fingers to help press the crumbs onto the mixture.
Place the breaded pieces onto a sheet of tinfoil and spray “Spray & Cook” over the pieces to help them gain a golden delicious brown color in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes.