Pecan Chicken with Whiskey Maple Sauce

Friday, December 30, 2011 - 
My momma is visiting (say hi mom!) for the week as I have some time off of work to enjoy the holiday season. I love this week. It allows me to do all that fun stuff - and I do mean fun - like cleaning and organizing closets and drawers in our house. I love to organize. I'm wondering if I could be a professional organizer and event planner. I mean, they are similar, aren't they?

Anyway, I digress. My momma is here. She helped me clean out some closets earlier this week, but really, we are operating as normal. Nothing too special besides some quality time with each other, closets, the couch, and a few stores here and there. She loves that I like to cook, so that has stayed the same as well. I keep cooking the same things that I would cook without her here.

She was flipping through a book I received from my mother-in-law over the holidays. It is a Southern Living book called "Off the Beaten Path." A drive through the south with restaurants and recipes along the way. I was walking by and saw a bourbon maple syrup sauce and I thought, "mmm, I could make that tonight." I had bought a few things for some sort of chicken dinner, but hadn't fine tuned my thoughts and this seemed like a step in the right direction.

The chicken turned out tender with a crispy crust. It was savory and matched well with the sauce I had adapted for the chicken. The sauce was sweet with maple but tangy with mustard flavor as well. A rich, salty and smokey taste also came through from the bacon and drippings I had used as the base of the sauce. I could have made mine a little bit thinner, but the sauce had some great flavor it.

Now, this isn't part of the 'eating lighter' motif by any means. But a little goes a long way, so it still isn't too much of a healthy sin. Plus, I had roasted some shallots and Brussels sprouts to go along with the meal. And my mom had given me a healthy dose of her cheesy potatoes from Christmas Day. A perfect side to this Southern inspired dish.

Order of the meal preparation:
1. Roast the veggies
2. Prep and begin cooking chicken
3. Make the sauce, plate the meal!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Shallots
Ingredients: Bag of fresh Brussels Sprouts, two shallots, salt, pepper, olive oil
Remove the outer leaves of the Brussels sprouts, chop them in half, and toss with sliced shallots on a shallow baking sheet. Toss with some olive oil, maybe one or two tablespoons, just enough to cover the veggies. Season with salt and pepper (I also added garlic powder and a few sprinkles of red pepper flakes) and bake at 400 degrees for about 25/30 minutes. By the time I finished everything else, the veggies were ready to go.

Pecan Chicken with Whiskey Maple Sauce
Ingredients: 1 c. pecans, 6 tbsp flour (split), 4 chicken breasts (trimmed and thinly pounded), 4 slices of bacon, two chopped shallots , 3 tbsp. maple syrup, 1/3 c. whiskey (bourbon if available!), 1/3 c. dijon mustard, 8 oz. whipping cream
1. Finely chop pecans and mix with 4 tablespoons of flour. Dredge chicken breasts with the pecan flour mixture, let rest for a minute while prepping oil.
2. Heat 1/4 of an inch of vegetable oil for a shallow fry. Cooking in batches, fry the chicken breasts for a few minutes on each side until done. Set aside and keep warm while working on the sauce (that is, if you don't make them at the same time like I did. I am a multi-tasker by heart).
3. Fry bacon until crisp. Drain the bacon, keep the drippings. Add two chopped shallots to the drippings and saute for two minutes until fragrant and soft.
4. Add two tablespoons of flour and cook until everything is incorporated and brown. Stir constantly to ensure it doesn't burn, and add the maple syrup to the mix.
5. Remove from heat and add whiskey. I'm all about safety which is why I encourage you to remove from flame if applicable. Return to heat after the whiskey is incorporated, and add the mustard to the mix.
6. Continuing to stir, add the whipping cream. Cook until thickened for a sauce to serve over chicken.