When I first saw a recipe for Pretzel-Crusted Chicken, my eyes grew wide. It’s like a crunchy chicken tender, but covered with that miraculous gift from the Salt Gods called pretzels? I want it.
I’ve tried a few different versions of Pretzel Chicken in the past, but I could never get the crust to stick. Or, I'd bake it and the pretzel crust on the bottom would get soggy and the top would be crisp. I all but gave up on a meal whose flavors I really do adore, until inspiration struck one day - why not put the pretzel crunchies on the inside?
I started with two boneless skinless chicken breasts and pounded them thin. Putting them between sheets of plastic wrap before pounding prevents your entire kitchen from being covered raw chicken splatter. (Raw Chicken Splatter, a weekend heavy metal band whose members are all Purdue farmers M-F. I could get behind this.) Separately and not photographed, I put about two large handfuls of pretzels in a zip-top bag and pounded them into mini chunks and crumbs. I skipped salt and pepper since the pretzels are already salty enough and liberally covered the pounded chicken with a good crust of pretzel. Then I rolled them up and tied with some pieces of kitchen twine. In the interest of not getting salmonella all over my iPhone, this is not documented either.
I knew these babies needed a sauce. Pretzels beg for mustard, crunchtastic chicken deserves honey mustard, and the following sauce was born:
1/4 c grainy mustard
1/4 c honey
1/2 c Dijon
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
The sauce is GOOD. The Dijon in my fridge is aggressively on the spicy side, so this sauce packed a punch. If you're making this yourself, feel free to adjust the proportions to your tastes. I drizzled about half of the sauce across the pretzel chicken bundles (also topped with some errant pretzel pieces) and baked them at 350° for about 25 minutes (a meat thermometer should register 165°).
Stunning. I served this with the same Brussels sprouts salad I posted on Monday and another hearty drizzle of the honey mustard sauce.
This is a winner. The sauce is so tangy yet sweet and was a perfect addition to the crunchy and tender chicken. I even used the leftovers a few days later on top of salmon. The combination of the grainy and Dijon mustards is such a great boost to the flavors. Again, this had a serious kick of heat to it because my Dijon is spicy, but it hurt so good. If I were making this for a crowd or especially if for kids, I'd temper down the heat with some more honey.
What did it look like when sliced?
Yup. Pretty much perfection. I doused every bite in the incredible sauce and loved every salty, crunchy morsel.