This $3 Ingredient Is the Secret to Crispy, Flavorful Chicken

published Jul 24, 2019
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Credit: Sheela Prakash

I recently moved from New York City to Charlotte, North Carolina, which means my local Trader Joe’s no longer has a line out the door. Finally, I can do all the treasure hunting I want without having to stand in line while I shop!

I tend to come home from TJ’s with at least one or two items that weren’t on my list (I know I’m not the only one with this tendency), but those often turn out to be some of the most-used ingredients in my kitchen. During one of my more recent treasure hunts, I grabbed something that has become my secret weapon for crispy chicken — and it also adds more flavor than I ever imagined a chicken breast could have.

Credit: Sheela Prakash

Trader Joe’s Dukkah Takes Weeknight Chicken on an Exotic Vacation

A simple dinner of oven-baked breaded chicken is an easy weeknight choice — it’s family-friendly and really just needs a pile of roasted vegetables to make it a meal. The usual breadcrumb route is fine, but lately I’ve been wanting something more. That’s where dukkah comes in.

If you’re not familiar with dukkah, it’s an Egyptian blend of nuts, seeds, and spice. Typical components are hazelnuts, sesame seeds, cumin, and coriander, although just about anything is fair game (I’ve actually never seen the same combination twice). Trader Joe’s version is a mix of almonds, sesame seeds, fennel seeds, coriander, anise seeds, and salt. It’s nutty and warm-tasting, with a bit of a licorice-bite from the fennel and anise.

Dukkah has a lot of uses — it can be added to salads or roasted vegetables, stirred into yogurt for an easy dip, or sprinkled onto olive-oil soaked bread. My favorite use, however, is as a crunchy coating for chicken. It delivers so much more flavor than breadcrumbs and it’s also gluten-free, which is a bonus for those looking to make breaded chicken without the bread.

How to Make Dukkah-Crusted Chicken

I start by coating chicken breasts or tenders in Dijon, mayonnaise, or, better yet, a combination. Then I press them into a plateful of dukkah, making sure to evenly coat both sides. I put the chicken on a wire rack that’s fitted into a rimmed baking sheet and bake it at 425°F for 15 to 20 minutes until cooked through and crispy.

Like so many of Trader Joe’s products, it’s not always on the shelves, so when you do spot it, pick up a few containers. If you’re anything like me, you’ll go through it much faster than you think.

Have you tried Trader Joe’s dukkah? What are some ways you like to use it or other dukkah blends?