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Herbed Chicken Breasts with a Crispy Black Olive & Parmigiano Crust

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Serves four.

The olives, Parmigiano, and sun-dried tomatoes give this crust a wonderful savory essence and a healthy dose of salt, too. For this reason, I decrease the amount of salt in the marinade. You can also omit the salt from the breadcrumbs recipe.

  • 4 small boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 to 7 oz. each), trimmed of excess fat
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. whole-grain mustard
  • 4 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups Toasted Breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, rinsed, patted dry, and chopped
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 3 Tbs. chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (about 3 large tomato halves; pat dry before chopping)
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Heat the oven to 450°F. Put a flat rack on a large rimmed baking sheet lined with foil.

With a meat pounder or a heavy skillet, lightly pound the chicken between two sheets of plastic wrap to even out the thickness of the breasts.

Herbed Chicken Breasts with a Crispy Black Olive & Parmigiano Crust Recipe

In a large bowl, mix the oil and mustard with half of the thyme, half of the rosemary, and the salt and pepper. Add the chicken and toss to coat well. You can proceed directly to coating the chicken breasts with crumbs, or let them marinate in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

Put the breadcrumbs in a large shallow dish and toss with the olives, Parmigiano, sun-dried tomatoes, and the remaining thyme and rosemary. Working with one piece at a time, transfer the chicken to the dish of crumbs, scoop some crumbs on top, and press well a couple of times so the crumbs adhere to both sides (these crumbs will be a little wet, so really press them on). Transfer to the rack on the baking sheet.

These crumbs are coarser than your average breadcrumbs, so it takes a little extra force to get them to adhere. My method is to pat a healthy amount of breadcrumbs on top of the chicken and then use the heel of my hand and a firm rotating motion to press the crumbs onto the chicken. Don't shake off the excess when transferring the breasts to the baking sheet; you want to keep as many crumbs on the chicken as possible.

Bake the chicken until it’s firm to the touch and registers 165°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately with the lemon wedges for squeezing over the chicken.

Make Ahead Tips

Make the crumbs ahead. They'll keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container at room temperature. Or if you want to whip up a few batches of crumbs, you can store them in a zip-top bag in your freezer for a couple of months.

Marinate ahead. You can pound the chicken and immerse it in the sticky flavor bath the day before you plan to cook it. The results will be excellent because the flavors will really sink into the meat.

Serving Suggestions

Add a crusty baguette and a bottle of Chianti for Friday dinner with friends.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on four servings; Calories (kcal): 330; Fat (g): fat g 17; Fat Calories (kcal): 150; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 3; Protein (g): protein g 36; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 10; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 6; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 710; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 95; Fiber (g): fiber g 1;

Photo: Scott Phillips

This recipe is okay. The homemade bread crumbs are excellent. The problem that I have with this dish is that it is very salty with the parm cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and olives. Also, there is something a little off about the olives in this dish. Might try it again without the olives.

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