With National Pretzel Day (April 26) fast approaching, I have no choice but to celebrate; the Philadelphian in me requires it! I’m clearly not alone: Philly loves their pretzels so much that we apparently eat 12 times the national average.
Pretzels have a long history in Pennsylvania, dating back to the 18th century when the Pennsylvania Dutch introduced soft pretzels to the region. National Pretzel Day was actually instituted in 2003 by none other than Ed Rendell to celebrate the importance of pretzels in Pennsylvania. Although the area is better known for their soft pretzels, legend has it that a Pennsylvania baker “invented” hard pretzels when he accidently left the pretzels in too long. Hard pretzels were also first commercially available from Pennsylvania’s own Sturgis Pretzel House in 1851.
So what better way to celebrate National Pretzel Day than to incorporate them into a delicious dinner recipe? I used Sourdough pretzels in this recipe adapted from Country Living to make another Philadelphia favorite: Fried Chicken! This Pretzel-Crusted “Fried” Chicken is actually baked, but the pretzel crust gives the chicken a nice crunch without deep frying.
Serves 4. Prep time: 30+ minutes Cook time: ~50 minutes
· 1 (3-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
· 2 cups low-fat buttermilk
· 1 pound (1 bag) unsalted sourdough pretzels
· 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
· 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
· 2 teaspoons pepper
· 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
· 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
· 3 egg whites
· 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, divided
· 1/3 cup honey
Add the chicken pieces (2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, 2 wings, and 2 breasts) to a medium sized bowl. Pour the buttermilk over the chicken, cover, and refrigerate. Let the chicken sit in the buttermilk for at least 30 minutes, or up to all day.
When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Add roughly half of your pretzels to a food processor and blend until you have coarse crumbs. Add to a shallow dish and set aside.
Add the remaining pretzels to the food processor and blend until you have a finer crumb. Add to another shallow dish. Mix in the smoked paprika, salt, ground pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Set aside.
In a third dish, whisk together the egg whites and the Dijon mustard.
Set up your dishes so that you have the fine crumb mixture, then the egg white mixture, then the coarse crumb mixture. Remove the chicken pieces, one by one, from the buttermilk. Dredge in the fine crumb mixture, dip into the egg white mixture, and coat with the coarse crumb mixture.
Place the chicken on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until the crust is crispy and reads 165 degrees F at its thickest point, about 40 to 50 minutes. (I suggest having the wings and drumsticks on one sheet, and the thighs and breasts on a separate sheet because they make take a little longer to cook.)
Serve with a quick honey mustard dip: 1/3 cup honey mixed into 1 cup Dijon mustard.