Cheddar-Crusted Chicken with Smooshy Applesauce


  • 5 McIntosh apples — peeled, quartered, cored and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup apple cider (eyeball it)
  • 3 rounded tablespoons brown sugar
  • One 1-inch piece of peeled ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Four 8-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup salted baby pretzels
  • 1 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1 cup shredded or crumbled sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (eyeball it)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • All-purpose flour, for dredging
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Salt

    How to make it 

  • 1

    Preheat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the apples, lemon juice, cider, brown sugar, ginger and cinnamon and stir. Cook, stirring frequently, until mushy, about 15 minutes. Remove the ginger.

  • 2

    While the applesauce is cooking, sprinkle a little water into each of 4 quart-size plastic storage bags. Place 1 chicken breast in each bag, push out the excess air and seal it up. Using a heavy-bottomed pot, pound each breast until evenly thin, just shy of busting out of the bag.

  • 3

    Place the pretzels, bread crumbs, cheese, thyme, nutmeg and pepper in a food processor and pulse to grind until they’re the consistency of bread crumbs. Transfer the ground pretzels and cheese to a shallow dish.

  • 4

    Crack the egg into a second shallow dish and lightly beat with a splash of water. Place some flour in a third dish. Coat the chicken first in flour, then egg and finally in cheese and pretzel crumbs.

  • 5

    In a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch of oil over medium-high heat and add the coated chicken breasts. Cook in a single layer, 3 or 4 minutes on each side, until the juices run clear and the breading is evenly browned. Cut off a piece of a cutlet and taste, to see if you want to salt them a little. Serve the chicken with the applesauce. Serves 4.

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