Monday, August 16, 2010

Cheesy Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I am decidedly not a breast person...chicken breasts that is. I usually find them dull and boring and only good if you salt them within an inch of their lives. I love thighs, legs, and especially wings. The bone is where all the flavor comes from. However, when you are trying to have a nice dinner party, it's tough to ask people to tuck a napkin into their collar and dive into a plate of chicken wings (although note to friends: I would love this kind of dinner party). Here is my solution, stuff the chicken breast with cheese and herbs and cook it in white wine and garlic. Then it will taste fantastic! I like to serve this when I am not very familiar with the palates of my guests. No worrying that someone doesn't like lamb or someone else likes their meat well done. This chicken is strangely elegant, but it is still just chicken so it pleases most everyone at the table.

Cheesy Stuffed Chicken Breasts
3 bone-in chicken breasts (one breast per person, so adjust accordingly)
1/2 cup white wine
1 lemon
2 garlic cloves
salt and pepper
olive oil
a few oz. of any soft, crumbly cheese that you like. An herbed goat cheese would be delicious. I used Farmer's Cheese with chopped herbs but that is because I am insane and like to make everything myself. It's hard to give an exact quantity because you use what you need to stuff the breast. Buy a log, use what you need, and spread the rest on crackers to eat while you are alone in the kitchen.

1. Wash chicken breast and pat them dry. Lay them flat on a cutting board and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides.
2. Using a small knife, make a slit so that you can stuff your breast. It doesn't have to be perfect, just about 3/4 of the way through so that you have a nice pocket. Sprinkle salt and pepper into the pocket for good measure.
3. Stuff the cheese into the chicken. You want them nice and plump, but you are going to sear the chicken and then bake it. Some cheese will inevitably seep out (and get crispy and amazing, by the way) but you don't want a cheese avalanche all over the place, so leave about 1/2 inch free on the outside so that you can "close" the pocket loosely to keep the cheese inside the chicken.
4. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan (oven proof would be best so you can pop it right in the oven). When it is hot, place the breast, skin-side down in the pan to sear.

5. Cook for about 5 minutes and flip.
6. Cook for 3 minutes and turn down to medium heat so that you can add coarsely chopped garlic, juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon, and white wine. Cover and allow to cook for 25-30 minutes, depending on the thickness of your chicken.
7. My oven-proof skillet was lent out to a friend, so I transferred the chicken and juice to a small baking dish (skin side up) and popped it under the broiler to let the skin crisp up for about 5-8 minutes. Keep an eye on it so that it doesn't burn. If you are just popping your skillet into the oven, flip the chicken so that it is skin side up.
8. Take out of the oven, admire your handiwork for one minutes (so that the cheese can firm up in there and not bee an oozing mess), and dig in. Spoon over the lemony, garlicky, wine sauce with gusto!

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