Thursday, July 16, 2009

Stuffed Chicken

I currently reside in an apartment (for about another day, yay!) so I am limited with the amount of green I am able to grow. My current large garden consists of two tomato plants in pots and a small herb box. I know, high society there. I just have to comment, one of my tomato plants is a giant. The thing is totally massive, if it was a kid at school, it would be the 7 foot center of the basketball team. I have NO idea what I did to it.

My herb box was planted for budget reasons, mainly because grocery stores like to charge crazy amounts of money for herbs that are extremely perishable. No thank you. So I currently grow chives, basil, thyme, and oregano. I did parsley last year which was also nice, but I have since found a good source for it. However, sometimes the box likes to do its own thing, such as grow crazy amounts of basil. Pesto is always an option, but since I'm moving next week I am trying to avoid making containers of things. Instead I opted for a stuffed chicken breast.

The idea of stuffed chicken breasts (French style) I got from Cook's Illustrated, with their neat approach to using pieces of the chicken for the stuffing instead of bread, adding to the texture but not drying the whole roll out. Swap out some ingredients for what I have on hand; make the preparation a bit easier for time, and boom, dinner. I paired it with some really awesome fresh tomatoes and green beans that I just drizzled with balsamic vinegar and some salt, pepper, and sugar.

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (3-4 breasts depending on where you get them)
1 shallot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
½ cup white wine
½ cup basil leaves
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
½ tablespoon + 1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice or white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

If the chicken breasts have tenders (the loose piece on the back the size of your finger), cut it off and reserve for the stuffing. Using a very sharp knife, butterfly the chicken breasts. Open up the breast so it is flat on the counter (still one piece), cover with plastic wrap, and pound to about ¼ inch thickness. It should be slightly larger than 6"x8". Trim the outside to make a 6"x8" rectangle, and add the trimmings to bowl of your food processor. You should get about 2 ounces of trimmed meat from each breast. Repeat with the other breasts and then set aside.

In the bowl of your food processor chop all of the breast trimmings in pulses, about 10 seconds. Transfer to bowl. Over medium heat place a large skillet and ½ tablespoon vegetable oil. Add the garlic and shallot and cook until soft. Transfer to the food processor. Return pan to heat and add wine, scraping up any stuck bits. Reduce wine to about 2 tablespoons and pour into a small bowl. Set aside.

To the food processor with the shallot and garlic, add the basil leaves and salt and pepper. Process to chop the basil. Add to the bowl with chicken and mix to combine. Next, lay out the chicken breasts. Spread the filling even over all of the breasts, leaving about ½ inch room on one long end of the breast. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the breasts. Using the long side, roll the chicken into a tight roll, using the side without filling as somewhat of a seal. Tie each breast with 3-4 pieces of kitchen twine.

Heat the remaining oil in the skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the rolled breasts and brown on all four sides, about 2 minutes per side. Make sure to redistribute the oil in the pan to prevent sticking. When browned, add the chicken broth to the pan and cover, reducing heat to medium and cooking until the middle reads 160°F, about 10 minutes. Remove chicken breasts and cover to rest. Return pan to heat and add the remaining wine. Reduce the sauce to about ¼- ½ cup. Turn off heat and whisk in butter and lemon juice. Slice chicken breasts and serve sauce over top. Enjoy.


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