Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Italian Stuffed Chicken Breast

I had some leftover mozzarella cheese block leftover from the Baked Sausage Ziti and so I posted on The Nest What's Cooking Message Board to get some ideas on what to make out of it.  Now, if you don't realize this, many of the blogs that I have on my blog roll are from "Nesties" (ie: ladies on The Nest).  They are pretty much the cooking divas of the blog world and I know that my measly blog is a far cry from theirs!  But, the purpose of my blog is really just to challenge myself with new cooking techniques and recipes and sharing the recipes/adventures with my friends and family (and whoever else might be reading in this vast world wide web...).

This recipe is not from a Nestie but rather I took a suggestion for stuffed chicken and then googled for ideas.  I chose this recipe because I had all ingredients on hand and it looked simple enough to make on a weeknight.  Yes, a WEEKNIGHT recipe!  Don't we all need some of those :).  I love things that you can prep the night before if you want and then just throw in the oven when you get home from work.  Delicious, hot, healthy dinner...and it didn't come from a crockpot (nothing against those...they are also God's Gift for the working woman!).

I scaled the recipe down to 2 since there's just the 2 of us.  You can scale it as needed.  The original recipe called for a garlic spinach bed for the chicken to rest on but I opted to serve it with mashed potatoes and steamed carrots because I didn't have fresh spinach on hand.  You can checkout the original recipe if you're interested in the spinach. 

I decided to add a coat of flour before doing the egg wash because that was a technique that was used in the Chicken Parmesan that I thought worked really well.  I will also admit that I took a shortcut and skipped the quick frying step in the pan.  As a result, my coating was not as crispy and my chicken took a little longer to cook in the oven.  Which brings me to the next lesson I learned...using a fat chicken breast means the cook time will probably need increasing.  Mine was way fat and even with extra baking time which I thought would be enough resulted in a ever-so-slightly pink center.  Being starving and having already turned off the oven though, I zapped it in my microwave for a few seconds to finish the cooking.  This probably also affected the crispiness...

All-in-all I really loved the way that this chicken turned out.  I wish I could take better photos to truly convey the yumminess of this one.  It would be even more awesome if I didn't take the shortcuts that I did :).  Each bite bursts with flavor and the sun dried tomato, basil, and mozzarella blend together wonderfully.  The chicken was not dry or tough, either.  I would be comfortable serving this one to company.

Italian Stuffed Chicken Breast
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  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (the thickest ones available)
  • 2 oz sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, julienned
  • 4oz ball fresh mozzarella, coarse chopped (used low-moisture block mozzarella, chopped into 1/2" cubes)
  • 4 large leaves fresh basil, coarse chopped
  • 1 egg, scrambled
  • Flour
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Italian Style Bread Crumbs
  • Olive Oil
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Using a small knife, cut a pocket in each chicken breast (pocket should be the entire inside of the breast).
  3. In a large bowl, mix sun-dried tomatoes (with most of the oil), mozzarella, basil and a dash of sea salt.
  4. Stuff chicken with mixture.  Using toothpicks, close up the hole in the chicken breast.
  5. Coat the bottom of a frying pan with Olive Oil and heat over medium-high heat.
  6. In a bowl, add flour and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Dip chicken in flour mixture then eggs and then coat with bread crumbs.  Fry in oil just long enough to brown the chicken (approx. 30 seconds per side).
  8. Arrange on a baking pan and place in oven to bake for 20-25 minutes. 
  9. Plate the chicken and remove toothpicks before serving.
*Note: If you're making this recipe in advance, complete steps 2-4 and then keep stuffed chicken breasts (without any coating) in the fridge until you're ready to cook.  Then when you're ready, preheat your oven and coat the chicken before cooking in frying pan and oven.

Source: Modified from Wholesale Italian Food (video instructions on website)

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