Maybe you don’t. It’s a silly question, really. I remember breadcrumbs as a large bag with beige contents that often resided in the upstairs freezer of the house. The Italian, of course, made their own with stale bread. Sometimes they would spice it up with salt, but basically the bread would get rock hard and then meet its ultimate fate in the food processor.
I don’t indulge in such craziness. One, Italian bread rarely goes stale around here. Bread is a weakness of mine. Two, I use breadcrumbs so infrequently that a regular-sized container will last me months. Of course, breadcrumbs are so old fashioned. I mean, anyone can crust a chicken breast in breadcrumbs, but *yawn* who wants to eat that? No no. Kids these days want panko. I mean, breadcrumb-crusted salmon on a menu isn’t all that attractive. But, panko-crusted salmon…well, that’s makes the specials board. The fact is that panko is coarsely processed, rendering more of a flake. This absorbs less grease when fried and produces a greater crunch.
In this dish, the chicken thighs are trimmed and dipped in dijon mustard to provide the coating that holds the panko to the meat.
WHAT WORKED: Trader Joe’s dijon mustard. Coarse-ground or country-style dijon is usually recommended when cooking. I don’t particularly know why, but I think it has something to do with the fact that smooth dijon mustard has a sharper flavor that can overwhelm. The country style mustard has a grittier texture, due to unground mustard seed. When prepared, it has an intense wine-mustard flavor without that telltale burn that you expect. The seeds in Trader Joe’s mustard are enormous and the flavor is so much better than the major brands. Sadly, I never seem to buy enough of this when I visit TJ’s.
WHAT DIDN’T: The chicken legs. The original recipe from Serious Eats calls for whole chicken legs. Yeah. Wegmans doesn’t sell whole chicken legs. I opted for boneless, skinless chicken thighs, which I would rather eat anyways.
WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: I honestly don’t remember. That’s the problem when you 1) Cook dinner on Wednesday but not write the post until Saturday, and 2) Have a toddler who sits at the dinner table. We’re spending more time discussing the merits of not climbing on the table than we are talking about dinner.
WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: Most likely. It’s a pretty simple dish.
Adapted from Serious Eats
- 1 lb. chicken thighs
- herbs de provence (1 tsp. or so…I didn’t really measure)
- 2 tbsp. country-style or coarse-ground dijon mustard
- 3 cups panko flakes
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place the mustard and panko into separate shallow bowls.
Pat the chicken thighs dry with a paper towel, then sprinkle with herbs, salt and pepper. Dip in the mustard to coat, then dredge in panko. Set on a foil-lined baking sheet. Repeat until all of the thighs are coated. Drizzle melted butter over the thighs, then bake for 60 minutes.