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Originally published Wednesday, January 5, 2011 at 5:01 PM

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Recipe: Pecan-Crusted Chicken Breasts with Bourbon Pan Sauce

A pecan crust gives these chicken breast a taste twist.

For The Associated Press

It's good to have a few "utility" recipes in your pocket. That is, dishes that are easy enough to prepare for a weeknight family dinner, but dressy enough for company.

This recipe for pecan-crusted chicken breast with bourbon pan sauce has a luxuriously rich flavor and looks impressive, yet takes just 35 minutes to make. If you want to skip the booze, just increase the amount of chicken broth or use an equal amount of apple juice instead.

For a gorgeous variation on this recipe, you can use finely chopped pistachios instead of pecans. In fact almost any of your favorite nuts would work.

Pecan-Crusted Chicken Breasts with Bourbon Pan Sauce

Makes 6 servings

1 cup finely chopped pecans

1 cup all-purpose white flour, divided

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 large eggs

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2 pounds)

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

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1/4 cup bourbon

1 cup chicken broth

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon coarse-grained mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

2 teaspoons water

1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. In a food processor, combine the pecans, 1/2 cup of the flour, salt and pepper, then pulse until the mixture becomes a coarse meal. Transfer the mixture to a shallow dish.

3. Place the remaining 1/2 cup of flour in a second shallow dish. In a third shallow dish, lightly whisk the eggs.

4. Dip both sides of each chicken breast first in the flour, shaking off any excess, then in the eggs, then through the pecan mixture. Transfer to a plate.

5. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add 3 of the chicken breasts and cook until well browned on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken breasts to a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and 3 chicken breasts.

6. Place the baking sheet in the oven and cook the chicken for 12 to 15 minutes.

7. While the chicken bakes, make the sauce. With the skillet over medium-high heat, add the bourbon and deglaze, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the broth, honey and mustard and bring to a simmer.

8. In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and water. Whisk the cornstarch into the skillet sauce and stir until thickened. Stir in the chives and soy sauce. Pour the sauce over the chicken breasts to serve.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 491 calories; 243 calories from fat (49 percent of total calories); 27 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 140 mg cholesterol; 23 g carbohydrate; 34 g protein; 3 g fiber; 496 mg sodium.

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