Delicious Nut Crusted Chicken with Caramelized Red Onion Topping
I happen to be on a bit of a nutritional challenge right now, and decided that a nice nut crusted chicken with a caramelized red onion topping would be just the thing for a filling dinner – with a huge side of steamed broccoli! This has NO wheat, and you can do it without adding any corn meal or sugar. It will still be delicious!
Years ago I went to a restaurant that many people in the north country where I live consider to be a gourmet establishment. While I tend to find stuff considered “gourmet” to be fairly contrived at times (not to mention overpriced for what you get on the plate), the chef had a type of nut-crusted chicken that I enjoyed.
At that time I also happened to be teaching English as an adjunct at a nearby community college where – much to everyone’s delight – has an outstanding culinary department. One of the benefits of working at the college was that sometimes we were asked if we’d like to help test a student’s creation. I was fortunate enough to enjoy a student’s caramelized red onions.
All of a sudden, it hit me! These caramelized red onions would be the PERFECT topping to an oven-baked, nut-crusted chicken! And oh yes indeed… it is perfect! And easy too!
Here’s how we do it – and if you make a large batch, it is great left over:
- 6 Chicken Breasts portions, no skin, and pounded thin. Use a sturdy meat tenderizer like this KitchenAid one (This is like the one we have).
- About a cup or so of finely ground walnuts
- If desired, a tablespoon or so of ground corn meal (add to the ground walnuts to “thin out” the nuts – totally optional)
- 1 egg, beaten
- A little water or milk or buttermilk to thin out the egg – you’re just using the mix to wet the chicken so the nuts will adhere to it.
- 4 large red onions, sliced very thin. They will shrink down!
- Splash of Balsamic Vinegar
- If desired, a tablespoon of coconut sugar or brown sugar (to add to the onions – totally optional. The onions will be quite sweet as it is.)
For the Chicken:
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Line a large cookie sheet (or pan) with parchment paper.
- Beat the egg and water (or milk or buttermilk) in a shallow bowl
- Finely grind the walnuts in a food processor. Be careful not to overgrind, otherwise you’ll start making nut butter.
- If desired, add a touch of the cornmeal, if you want the nuts to be a little more “light” textured. Not necessary if you are not using corn.
- Pound the chicken breasts until thin.
- Dip breasts into the egg solution, then in another bowl, sprinkle a little of the nut mixture on one side, and put that side face down on the parchment paper.
- Do this with all the chicken breasts, and arrange on the paper.
- Top the breasts with an even layer of the ground nuts.
- Bake for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through (I usually cut into the thickest one to be sure – you can use a meat thermometer and look for about 165 degrees F – but it’s sometimes hard to get a good reading if the chicken is thin.)
While the chicken is baking, prepare the Onions:
- In a non-stick pan, start cooking the onions. When you first put them in, the onions will look very piled high, but they WILL wilt!
- Throughout the process, put a little water in if need be, and continually watch, stir, and decrease the onions until they get very mushy and wilted. This will take about 20 minutes or so, depending on how much you are making, size of the pan, etc.
- Once they are pretty well mush, and beginning to stick to the pan quickly, even after you’ve added a little water, add some balsamic vinegar, and stir well. It’s really to your taste here – maybe 1/4 cup, but I don’t think you’ll need more than that.
- Let the liquid dissipate, and taste the mix. The onions should have a mushy texture, and a slightly sweet taste. The balsamic should be more of a hint, not an overwhelming flavor.
- If you want to add a touch of sugar to the mix, go ahead, but taste before you add sugar.
When ready to serve, divide the onions evenly among the breasts so that each breast gets a nice serving.
Enjoy with a large side of fresh steamed veggies!