As mentioned in the last post, we had some friends over for dinner a few weeks ago. I made a delicious side dish of Butternut Squash Crumble… but what was the main course you ask? An amazing dish I found on a random little website — Goat Cheese & Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Caramelized Shallot and Mushroom Sauce. It… was… amazing…
I had never stuffed a chicken breast before, so “what better time than now?” I asked myself. The recipe looked a little intimidating, filling up a page and half with mostly single-spaced text. I didn’t want to be slaving over the food the entire time our friends were over, so I decided to *try* to prepare everything in advance.
The recipe talked about cooking the chicken until done in a saute pan. I decided that rather, I would brown the chicken in the pan, but then transfer it to the oven for finishing and to allow myself some time to enjoy a glass of wine. It worked out very well.
4 Chicken Breasts
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bag baby spinach
4 oz goat cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
S2-3 bulbs shallots, sliced thinly
2 c chicken broth (4 cups if not using wine, 2 cups if you are)
2 c white wine (I would use dry)
Balsamic Vinegar, to taste(just a splash)
Cornstarch (1-2 tsp) mixed in equal parts water (as needed)
2-3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 container sliced baby bella mushrooms
To prepare chicken breasts, use a paring knife to cut a pocket into each breast. Try to keep the entry hole less than 2 inches. I made a 3 inch slice down the center of the breast — making sure to go in no further than 50% of the breast’s thickness) and then slid a small paring knife into the slice horizontally to create the “pocket”.
Heat 1tbsp of olive oil in a non-stick skillet and saute the garlic (you can add prosciutto if you think that sounds good) over med-high heat for 2 minutes, add spinach and cook until just wilted.
In a large bowl, stir together spinach mixture with goat cheese and any additional ingredients (except mushrooms).
Divide mixture amongst the 4 breasts and stuff the pockets. Try to distribute the stuffing as evenly as possible by massaging the pocket. I used a spoon to jam the mixture into the pocket and to evenly distribute it through the entire pocket. There will be some of the mixture left sitting ‘on top’ of the breast.
Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.
Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in same non-stick skillet and cook chicken approx. 5 minutes each side or until done. (Internal temperature of stuffing reaches 165). For this, I started with the cut/stuffing side down. You will probably need to do two breasts at a time. I may have used a bit more than 1 tbsp of olive oil to assure the chicken wouldn’t stick. I cooked the first side for 4 minutes, added more oil an then flipped the chicken over. My chicken stuck a little… but it could have been my pan. The color of the chicken should be a nice golden brown.
Remove chicken from pan, set-aside and keep warm. At this point, I placed all four chicken breasts in a oven-proof dish and put them aside until I was ready to finish cooking. I pre-heated the oven to 350 degrees F and cooked them for another 15 or 20 minutes — checking the internal temperature to determine when they were done.
In the same skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute shallots for 4 minutes or until browned and delicious looking. I added the container of sliced baby bella mushrooms at this point.
Add a splash of balsamic.
Stir in wine; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce by half, about 5 minutes.
Add chicken broth; bring to boil and reduce by half again. About 8 minutes. My sauce definitely cooked longer than this, as our friends had arrived and I was chatting. The sauce sat on the stove top the entire time the chicken was cooking in the oven. I covered the pan to make sure the sauce wouldn’t reduce too much. I think the extra cooking time added a delicious depth of flavor to the sauce.
Stir in cornstarch/water mixture; bring to a boil stirring constantly. When sauce reaches desired consistency, add fresh parsley.
This was the final result… again, not a great picture — and it doesn’t even remotely give the dish justice. I just took a couple of quick snap shots.
The meal was a huge hit… we all loved it and ate way more than we should have because it was just too good to leave on the plate!