Almond Thyme Crusted Chicken with Sweet and Sour Cherry Sauce

Friday, April 12, 20130 comments

Almond Thyme Crusted Chicken with Sweet and Sour Cherry Sauce
Almond Thyme Crusted Chicken with Sweet and Sour Cherry Sauce
This recipe sure does have a lot going for it both in terms of flavor and texture. The crunchy coating ids packed with plenty of ground almonds and fragrant thyme, while the chicken breast gets baked to succulent perfection. Yes, this is a baked and not fried skinless chicken dish which is an added bonus in terms of very little added fat.

To compliment the crunchy chicken is a very easy sweet and sour cherry pan sauce which comes together quickly in the time it takes the chicken to bake. We served this chicken with some simple steamed vegetables and brown for a complete and very nutritious meal. While this dish makes an elegant presentation for a fancy dinner party or to serve special guests, my kids tore into this meal showing that it works just as well as a pretty quick and easy workday meal.

Serves 4

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F

  • 4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
Season the breasts with salt and pepper then brush the entire outside of the meat with:
  • Dijon mustard, about a teaspoon or so per breast
Mix together:
  • 1 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp dried thyme (or about 1 1/2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves roughly chopped)
  • 2 tbsp flour
Roll the Dijon brushed chicken breasts in the almond mixture and roast uncovered on a parchment lined and lightly oiled baking sheet for 25 to 30 minutes depending on the size of the chicken breasts.  You can also lightly spray the tops of the breasts with a little olive oil to help them brown if you like but this is not totally necessary. Bake until the internal temperature of the the meat reaches 170 degrees F or greater. let the chicken breasts rest for at least 5 minutes out of the oven before serving with the Sweet and Sour Cherry Sauce.

Sweet and Sour Cherry Sauce

In a saute pan over medium heat add:
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 
When heated add:
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 large shallot or 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
Cook only until the onions soften, then add:
  • 1/2 cup red wine (grape juice or apple juice can be substituted)
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cherries, quartered
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar ( or balsamic vinegar)
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme (or about 1 1/2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves roughly chopped)  
  • 2 tbsp honey
Simmer on medium-low heat until the sauce thickens. Taste the sauce and give a final season of salt and pepper if necessary. Depending on the sweetness of the cherries you may also need, based upon tasting, to add a little more honey or vinegar to balance the sauce. Just cook it for another minute or two after the final additions.

As with almost any pan sauce, you can add a tablespoon or two of butter just at the very absolute end of the cooking time for added richness, flavor and body but again this is not necessary if you are watching the fat content of the dish.
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