Don't shy away from all the ingredients here. The dressing is a cakewalk, since you just pour everything (except the garlic) into a blender. The pecan-crusted chicken is a simple breading procedure, and the chicken cooks up in a snap. You'll be spending most of your time at the chopping block as you hack pecans into little pieces and get the lettuce, garlic and celery ready. I've made this recipe to serve four, but if there are only two of you, you can easily cut it in half.
4 skinless chicken breast fillets
½ cup finely chopped pecans
½ cup corn flake crumbs
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup canola oil
1 cup canola oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
4 teaspoons Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
1 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
½ cup finely chopped pecans
12 cups copped romaine lettuce (2 heads)
1 cup sliced celery (2 stalks)
2 11-ounce cans mandarin orange segments, drained
½ cup crumbled blue cheese
We'll make the pecan-crusted chicken first since it is served cold. Pound each chicken fillet to about ½-inch thick. You can do this easily by covering each chicken breast in plastic wrap and pounding away with a kitchen mallet.
Combine ½ cup finely chopped pecans, corn flake crumbs and ¾ teaspoon salt in a shallow bowl. Combine milk with beaten eggs in another shallow bowl. Dump the flour into another shallow bowl.
Bread each chicken breast by coating each with flour. Dip the flour-dusted chicken into the egg mixture, and then coat the chicken with a thick coating of the pecans and corn flake crumbs.
Preheat ½ cup of canola oil in a large skillet over medium/low heat. When the oil is hot, sauté the chicken fillets for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until golden brown. Cool chicken on a rack or paper towels. When you can handle the chicken, cover it and refrigerate for at least two hours.
As the chicken chills, you can make the balsamic vinaigrette by combining 1 cup canola oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, granulated sugar and ½ teaspoon salt in a blender. Blend on low speed for just a few seconds, or until the dressing begins to thicken. Don't blend too long or your vinaigrette will get too thick, like mayonnaise. Pour vinaigrette into a small bowl and mix in minced garlic. Chill this until you're ready to use it.
When you're ready to build your salads, toss lettuce and celery with about ¾ cup of the balsamic vinaigrette.
Arrange the lettuce on four plates, then sprinkle the cranberries over the lettuce (about ¼ cup per serving).
Combine the 3 tablespoons of brown sugar with ½ cup of finely chopped pecans. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of this mixture on each salad.
Sprinkle about ½ can of drained mandarin segments over each salad, followed by about 2 tablespoons of crumbled blue cheese.
Slice each fillet into thin strips. Arrange one sliced chicken fillet on top of each salad and serve.
Makes 4 servings.
Dare to indulge at home? Do it right with a warm, white chocolate and walnut blondie under a scoop of ice cream and chopped walnuts, dripping in sizzling maple butter sauce.