As a college student with a penchant for kitchen experimentation, I felt I had a pretty good handle on cooking with limited resources. So when the opportunity arose to share a recipe here made with only five ingredients, I thought, duh. This is my jam. Sign me up.
The idea was great in theory, but in practice (ie: thinking about what I eat on a regular basis that doesn’t involve much by way of components), I realized that most of the simple things I eat involve whatever’s in the fridge and quinoa. Cut it up, mix it in, done. The same could be said for my average pasta, pizza, or even stir-fry dish, none of which seemed exciting enough to share. Point: five ingredient meals are easy when they’re of the throw-together variety, or they have a serious base to anchor them (like a grain or bread), but I’ve found that it’s harder to cap the add-ins when your end goal is something more substantial or sophisticated.
Enter the maverick of limited-ingredient gourmet: Claire Robinson, host of the Food Network program Five Ingredient Fix. Claire covers it all on her show, from mixed drinks and desserts to salads and marinades, with only as many ingredients per dish as fingers on her hand. It was from her that I adapted the following chicken recipe, which takes a tiny bit of forethought for soak time but is ultimately a very easy main course. The crust of the chicken is super nutty, flavorful, and with the cornmeal addition, gluten-free and way substantial.
Kendra Vaculin is a junior at Northwestern University and is typing this from the back row of her Shakespeare class because she’s hungry and would rather think about chicken right now than Antony and Cleopatra. She maintains the food and fashion blog North South East Dressed and feels pretty passionately about night cheese.
Buttermilk Pecan Chicken
adapted from Claire Robinson
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup pecan pieces
1/2 cup cornmeal breadcrumbs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
Placing each chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap, pound it to about 1/3 inch thickness with a meat mallet or another flat, heavy object. I used (omg theatre major) my Shakespeare anthology. Embarrassing.
Add the buttermilk and chicken to a shallow dish. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.
Pulse pecans in a food processor/blender/Magic Bullet until they form a course meal. Mix in cornmeal crumbs and spread out on a plate.
Remove chicken from buttermilk and shake off excess. Dredge in the crumb/nut mixture on both sides. After heating the oil in a sided pan, shallow fry the chicken about 4-5 minutes per side, until golden brown.
Pull cooked chicken from oil and allow to drain on a paper towel-lined plate and pat dry before serving. Season with salt and pepper to taste.