Terri Windover, Connect Columnist
I have made stuffed chicken breasts over the years, and have fallen victim to the many pitfalls that go with cooking a stuffed dish time, and again. I decided to challenge myself to come up with a recipe and process to make super delicious stuffed chicken breasts with minimal pain and suffering.
What pitfalls you say? First, the delicious stuffing can sometimes ooze out while cooking, leading to a very un-stuffed dish. A lot of times the stuff ends up all over the baking sheet and all that’s left is meat with a hint of the heavenly goodness it once housed.
Secondly, the outside can become overdone before the internal temperature of the stuffing indicates that it is cooked through. You know what I mean, when it’s so dry and stringy the top layer peels off (Ick!). And finally, the pain-in-the-old-you-know-what process of stuffed meats in general can lead to frustration for the home chef and possibly an entire platter being thrown out and pizza ordered. This may or may not have happened in my house.
I made the stuffing for this recipe from goat cheese, cooked and crumbled pancetta, fresh parsley, garlic and roasted red peppers. Because the pancetta was very salty, I did not add any salt to the stuffing. To prevent the stuffing from leaking in the heat I did two things. First, I butterflied the chicken breasts, and then pounded them thin. This created enough room to hold all the stuffing. Also, when I folded the chicken, I used several toothpicks to seal the edges. THIS IS A BIG DEAL! I thought about using staples but…
I egged and breaded the stuffed chicken and then let them rest for about 10 minutes, before pan searing until lightly browned. This helped it cook evenly throughout. The resting time helped the coating adhere and prevent it from falling off when cooking, a personal pet peeve of mine. I then transferred the partially cooked chicken to a tray and finished in the oven. The result was perfectly cooked with all of the stuffing inside. Stop the presses!
There are infinite options for the stuffing, but I love a balanced set of flavours. This recipe had creamy (goat cheese), spicy (raw garlic), salty and rich (pancetta) and colorful & flavorful (green parsley & red peppers). Other ideas could include; capers, blue cheese, chorizo sausage and any fresh herb. Let your imagination run wild with this one people. Your taste buds and your family will thank you. For more free recipes, fitness tips or to follow my blogs’ rants and raves, visit my website at www.terri-windover.com.
Chicken Stuffed with Goat Cheese & Pancetta
2-4 servings (varies based on portion size)
2 chicken breasts, tenderloin removed, butterflied
2 oz goat cheese, softened
3 thick slices pancetta, diced and cooked. Approx. 1/3 cup. You can substitute bacon
2 Tbsp minced parley
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
1/2 roasted red pepper
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup bread crumbs for coating. You can use panko, corn meal or any other type you like.
- Mix stuffing ingredients and spread half on each chicken breast. Fold over and seal with toothpicks.
- Dip in beaten egg and then bread crumbs. Let rest for 10 minutes
- Pan sear in olive oil until lightly browned on both sides.
- Cook an additional 15 minutes in 350 degree oven. Remove when internal temp is 160. You could use the same pan but I elevated mine on a cooking sheet to make sure top and bottom were crispy.