One of my more favorite mini NYC itineraries when the girls were little was a walk on the High Line, a stop at the magical Books of Wonder on 17th Street, then, of course, a hot chocolate (or the iconic “cold hot chocolate”) and pretzel croissant at City Bakery, just off NYC’s Union Square. For decades before it closed in 2019, City Bakery helmed by chef Ilene Rosen, seemed to a place I always just ended up — for outings with the kids, for business lunches and breakfasts (the lychees at the yogurt bar!), for coffee dates, for afternoon writing sessions when I started working for myself and all I needed to fuel myself was a plate of their famous pretzel-crusted mustard chicken, maybe a giant chocolate chunk cookie, and a table in the loft-like upstairs so I could have the best angle to people watch. I was thinking of this at dinnertime recently because my mom’s golden fried chicken cutlets were on the menu for Sunday Dinner, and as I was setting up my dredging stations I realized that I had just a few dusty bread crumbs left in my panko can. I know I could’ve whirled just about any kind of bread in the food processor to make homemade breadcrumbs, but a bag of Trader Joe’s honey pretzels inserted themselves into my line of vision and then, all I could see was City Bakery’s famous dish. The result, I texted my daughter at college, was maybe the best thing I’ve made all year. “It’s like the bougiest kids menu item!” she replied, and then, “I’m getting on the next train home.”
Pretzel Chicken and Greens with Creamy Honey-Mustard Sauce
I used Trader Joe’s honey mustard rods for the pretzels, but you can use any kind. Just make sure there are some chunks, you don’t want it to be pulverized into powder because it’s all about the crunch. Serves 4 (FYI: The picture shows a serving for 2)
Chicken & Greens
6 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as necessary
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cups plain or panko bread crumbs
3/4 cups crushed pretzels (pulse them in the food processor about ten times)
1 tablespoon dry mustard powder
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breasts; if they are large, thick pieces, slice them in thirds horizontally
4 large handfuls of fresh greens, any kind
3 tablespoons finely minced red onion
2 tablespoons Dijon
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 cup plain yogurt (any fat content)
2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Add oil to a large skillet set over medium heat. Set up your dredging stations: one rimmed plate for the eggs, one plate for the flour, and one plate for the pretzel and bread crumbs seasoned with the mustard powder, salt and pepper. Using a fork coat your chicken pieces first in the flour (shaking off the excess), then in the egg, then in the crumbs pressing the chicken into the crumbs to thoroughly coat.
Fry each breast in the oil for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Try not to crowd the pan. The cutlets are cooked when chicken is firm to the touch but not rock hard.
Remove and pat the chicken dry with a paper towel, then place on a cookie rack to cool. (This helps the pretzel crust stay crunchy.) Add more oil to the pan and fry the remaining breasts. Once all the chicken is cool enough to handle, slice on the bias into pieces as shown. Divide greens and red onion between four bowls and place chicken on top.
Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake. Drizzle on top of chicken and serve.