Almond-Crusted Chicken with Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

I’ve come to believe that there are few things in the fridge or freezer as reliable and dependable as the good ol’ boneless chicken breast.  I mean, how many times have you been stumped as to what the heck to put on the dinner table, only to be saved by those chicken breasts waiting faithfully and patiently in the freezer to rescue you in your hour of need?

I’ll be the first to admit that I have been known to occasionally speak disrespectfully of the lowly chicken breast.  I’m a dark meat kind of person and the boneless chicken breast doesn’t usually have much real curb appeal to me.  And so there I was last week, stumped as to what to throw together for dinner and staring down a couple of those boneless breasts and feeling quite uninspired.

Until I remembered a bag of almond meal I had just brought home from Trader Joe’s, and the fog began to lift and in my mind, those previously unremarkable slabs of protein began to morph into something rather delectable.

Thirty minutes later we were digging on some very fine almond-crusted chicken with a lovely, creamy roasted red pepper sauce.  I sautéed up some asparagus and threw a couple of baby potatoes in the microwave and to look at that plate, you’d think I’d planned this meal weeks in advance.

But I mostly want to talk about that chicken.  Awesomely good.  I dredged each breast in some egg white and then in the almond meal

and sautéed them in some olive oil until they were brown and crunchy on each side.  Then I popped them in the oven to finish cooking.  Actually, I popped them in the oven to almost finish cooking.  That really is the secret to keeping a boneless chicken breast moist and tender… let it finish cooking off the heat.  This is the best way to keep your chicken breasts from over-cooking.

And the sauce couldn’t have been easier… puree some roasted red peppers in the food processor, sauté a little garlic in olive oil, add the pureed peppers, salt, pepper and some goat cheese.  Heat through and then throw in some chopped fresh parsley.  Next time I might add some crushed red pepper to the sauce.

Everyone should have at least one easy, fast, delicious chicken recipe in their culinary repertoire, and I’m thinking this one’s going to the top of my list.  Here’s the recipe…

Almond-Crusted Chicken with Creamy Red Pepper Sauce

Click here for a printable recipe

Serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2-3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 12 or 16-oz jar of roasted red peppers

2 large cloves of garlic, minced

5 oz goat cheese

1 1/2 cups of almond meal

4 egg whites, lightly beaten

3 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Generously sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides and dredge first in the egg whites and then in the almond meal.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and then add the olive oil to the pan.  When it's good and hot, add the chicken breasts and saute until golden brown on the bottom.  Turn the chicken and brown the other side (a total of 5-6 minutes).  Place the pan in the hot oven and cook for about 20 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven and let it sit for about 5 more minutes to finish cooking before serving.  If your chicken breasts are more than 2 inches thick, you might want to add 5 minutes or so to the cooking time.

While the chicken is cooking, puree the roasted red peppers in a food processor or blender.  Saute the garlic and the crushed red pepper (if using) in a little olive oil and add the pureed peppers.  Heat through and then add the goat cheese and 1 tsp salt and a little pepper.  When the goat cheese is creamy, stir in half of the chopped parsley.

To serve, place a little of the sauce on the plate and top with the chicken.  Pour a little more sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with the remaining chopped parsley.

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