Nutty Fried Chicken served over smashed sweet potatoes and covered in milk gravy is a southern meal that packs a whole lot of flavor.
These chicken breasts are soaked in buttermilk and then dredged in a mixture of Panko crumbs and ground mixed nuts. The mixed nuts make the chicken extra flavorful and crunchy.
The chicken breasts are fried until golden and crispy, served over smashed sweet potatoes flavored with brown sugar, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper and drizzled with a creamy milk gravy.
This recipe is from one of my very favorite cookbooks, Tupelo Honey Cafe: Spirited Recipes from Asheville’s New South Kitchen
I’m not sure which part of this recipe I like better, the chicken or the sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes are peeled and cubed and baked in the oven with butter, maple syrup, and brown sugar until they are soft. I think you can imagine how good something baked in butter, maple syrup, and brown sugar tastes.
I did cut down some on the sugar and maple syrup because I find sweet potatoes to be exceptionally sweet all by themselves. I also added a little cayenne pepper because I love the contrast of sweet and spicy.
Once the sweet potatoes are cooked they are mashed with some heavy cream. Heavenly!
It’s best to pound your chicken breasts to flatten them some so they don’t take too long to cook in the oil. If your coating starts to get too brown before the chicken is cooked through, you can always transfer the chicken to a 350 degree oven to finish cooking.
If your nuts are salted, you shouldn’t need to add any salt to the chicken, but I would if the nuts you use are unsalted.
Nutty Fried Chicken is a fresh take on fried chicken that is pure comfort food. I like to serve it with green beans or a side salad.
Nutty Fried Chicken with Smashed Sweet Potatoes and Milk Gravy
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 1 1/2 cups panko crumbs
- 1 1/2 cups roasted and salted mixed nuts
- 2 cups canola oil
Smashed Sweet Potatoes
- 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 4 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Marinate the chicken in the buttermilk for 1-2 hours. Skip below to proceed with sweet potatoes and gravy while the chicken marinates.
- Use a food processor to grind the panko crumbs and nuts until finely ground.
- Heat oil in a cast iron skillet to 325 degrees.
- Remove chicken from buttermilk and coat in panko/nut mixture.
- Fry in oil until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes per side.
- Place chicken on paper towels to drain.
- Heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine sweet potatoes, brown sugar, maple syrup, and butter in a baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until potatoes are tender.
- Place potatoes in a large mixing bowl and reserve any liquid that is in baking dish. Using a mixer, beat potatoes until smooth, adding reserved liquid as needed. (You can use a fork to mash the potatoes instead of a mixer.)
- Mix in cream, salt, and both peppers. Keep warm.
- Make gravy. Melt butter over low heat in a heavy saucepan.
- Add flour and whisk into butter. Increase heat to medium and stir continuously for 2 minutes. (Do not let it brown.)
- Gradually mix in milk and add salt. Continue to cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Mixture should be thick enough to coat back of spoon. Season with more salt if desired.
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