Smoky spices combine with crushed pecans for a flavorful, crunchy combination in this “healthy” fried chicken recipe. Using olive oil for frying gives a lighter taste so the seasonings and pecans satisfy in every bite.
Marinated in buttermilk, the chicken becomes tangy and moist on the inside and the pecans give just the right mild crunch. After dredging the chicken in the spices, refrigerating it for an additional 30 minutes ensures the crust stays on the chicken during frying and helps to infuse the spices in the chicken.
Great served picnic style or for any party where you want an impressive meal that is easy to pull together. The ingredient list seems daunting, but you can mix the spices together ahead of time and there is nothing complicated or fussy in the final preparation. The chicken reheats well if you want to fry the day before serving. Just reheat it in the oven and there you go! Cook’s note: I’m sure some of you are wanting to bake the chicken rather than fry it. The crust will be a little softer and not as golden, but will still be flavorful. Just be sure to coat the baking sheet with olive oil before baking.
My family liked it just dumped on newspaper and placed at the center of the table for easy finger-licking noshing.
- 6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into tenders or strips
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 2 cups pecans
- 1 1/3 cups flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Olive oil for frying
- Place chicken pieces in a bowl, cover with the buttermilk and marinade for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- In a food process, pulse the pecans, flour and all seasonings until the nuts are roughly chopped.
- Transfer the pecan mixture to a bowl and, one at a time, coat the chicken pieces thoroughly.
- Set the coated pieces on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Fill a cast-iron skillet halfway with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking.
- Cook the chicken 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until dark golden.
- Drain the chicken on paper towels and serve hot.
Recipe adapted from Chef Lee Bailey in O-The Oprah Magazine Cookbook.