Feb 20, 2008

Mediterranean Stuffed Chicken

As I was browsing through food blogs a few days ago, I came across this recipe for Mediterranean Stuffed Chicken at Cara's Cravings. It looked so delicious, that I just had to try it! The recipe came to her through a recipe exchange.



The recipe below is directly from Cara's Cravings blog, and my additions are in red.

It turned out really well - something that I will definitely make again. I really needed a new chicken recipe, so this is a good one to have around! I don't always have all of the ingredients, but there are lots of substitutions that could be made. Enjoy!

Chicken Breasts with Mediterranean Stuffing
Courtesy of Stonewall Kitchen Favorites

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped I used 2 cloves.
5 ounces baby spinach, or regular spinach, stemmed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 4 medium) I used 2 medium chicken breasts.
4 ounces soft goat cheese or mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil Mine were not packed in oil - it was fine!
2 tablespoons black olive tapenade, available in specialty food stores I spread 1 tbsp. between our two pieces of chicken.
1 tablespoon plus1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup sliced baby bella mushrooms
Angel Hair pasta
1 tbsp. parsley minced

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon (I used about a teaspoon. I also added about a tbsp. of butter.) of the olive oil. This is where I cooked the mushrooms. I cooked them for about 5-7 minutes, adding the garlic at the very end. Then I removed the mushrooms and wiped the skillet clean. When hot, add the garlic, and stir for about 15 seconds. Add the spinach and season with salt and pepper. (I did not wilt the spinach, I chopped it up and added it to the cheese and sun-dried tomatoes.) Cook, stirring, until the spinach has wilted completely and excess liquid has evaporated, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the spinach to a small plate and set aside to cool slightly.

Using a small, sharp knife, cut one chicken breast almost in half horizontally so it opens like a book - the breast meat should still be held together on one long side. Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces. Season the outside of each breast with salt and pepper and open the chicken breasts up on the cutting board. (I ended up pounding them until they were about 1/4 inch thick. When I stuffed them, I just folded the chicken over and secured it with a toothpick.)
In a small bowl, mix the goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes until well blended.Using your hands, squeeze the excess moisture out of the sauteed spinach. Chop it and spread a quarter of it on one half of each chicken breast. Spread equal amounts of the cheese mixture over the spinach. Then, using a small spoon, spread some of the tapenade on the empty side of each chicken breast. Close the tapenade side of the chicken breast over the cheese, and press gently to adhere.Heat a large skillet over medium heat (you can use the spinach pan; just wipe it out with a paper towel).
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook according to package directions.

Add the remaining olive oil and about 1 teaspoon of butter. When the butter has melted, gently place each chicken breast in the pan. Cook for about 6 to 8 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the breast, or until chicken is golden and cooked through and the cheese has melted. (Lift up the pocket flap to check to see if the chicken is thoroughly cooked; there should be no signs of pinkness.) Remove the chicken to a serving plate and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. (My chicken was not cooked through, so I left it in the pan and put the cover on after I let the wine cook off a bit.)
Raise the heat to high. Add the wine to the skillet. Let the wine cook off for 2 to 3 minutes, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan with a spatula or a wooden spoon. Add the remaining tablespoon butter to the pan (and the mushrooms), stir until the butter melts, and then pour the sauce over chicken.

Serve the chicken whole or sliced. Server with pasta and garnish with parsley.

Favorite Variations:
*Replace the tapenade with store-bought pesto
*Substitute chopped roasted red peppers for the sun-dried tomatoes
*Omit the goat cheese and add a thin slice of Brie or Camembert to each chicken breast
*Add a thin slice of prosciutto to the layers in addition to, or instead of, one of the other ingredients
*Substitute Swiss chard, arugula, or kale for the spinach
*Use sherry or a fairly dry red wine instead of white wine
*Add 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest to the sauce when you add the butter
*Substitute 4 ounces herbed spreadable cheese (such as Boursin) for the goat cheese, and ¼ cup chopped, seeded, ripe tomatoes for the sun-dried tomatoes
*For an entirely new stuffing: substitute ¼ pound crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (1 cup), ¼ cup chopped toasted walnuts, and ¼ cup caramelized onions


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