Monday, August 30, 2010

Easy and Amazing Stuffed Chicken Breast

This delectable stuffed chicken breast came out of my freezer!

I made a couple of these one night because I had made too much of the filling, took a gamble, and stuck the extra one in the freezer. Chris took one bite and immediately commented that it did not taste like it had spent two months in the freezer. Success!

I have a theory that you can stuff a chicken breast with pretty much anything. One time I had some leftover Boursin cheese spread. That on its own was delicious in a chicken breast. Whatever you stuff it with, make sure you thoroughly salt and pepper the outside of the chicken first.

The filling of this chicken combines my favourite things: red pepper, spinach, goat cheese, and garlic. A recipe for happiness.

There are a few methods for stuffing chicken. I've tried the pounding method with little success. It's messy, time consuming, and hard to get the filling to stay in. To use the pounding method, you really need boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I like to use bone-in, skin-on breasts because they stay moist and flavourful, and still look like chicken breasts after cooking. With the bone-in, skin-on breast, the best method is the pocket method: take a paring knife and cut a pocket in the thickest part of the breast. Stick your fingers in there to really open it up. Jam the cooled stuffing in there, bang the breast on the cutting board a couple of times, and shove in a little more stuffing.

Other times, I've soaked wooden skewers in water and sewn the pocket shut before cooking. I didn't skewer this one when I stuck it in the freezer; I just pulled the chicken skin over the opening thinking it would freeze in that position. I was sort of right. I cooked it without a skewer, and while some of the filling kind of oozed out in the oven, I didn't lose any to the pan. I might use skewers if I was making it for company, but maybe not if I just came home from work.

When you brown the chicken, make sure you start by placing the breasts skin-side down in the hot pan pan. By placing it skin-side down first, you're making sure the side that will be presented on the plate is browned in a clean pan so it looks the prettiest (thank you Martha).

Here's the trouble I usually encounter: if there's too much oil in the pan when you throw it in the oven (there usually is), it smokes up the whole house. I've tried using oils with higher smoke points, but it still happens. I've also tried accepting the smoke and opening the windows and waving at the smoke detector. The lesson is, use very little oil in your pan. Or, transfer the browned breasts to a baking sheet to put in the oven. The trouble with not cooking it in the pan is that it makes making a delicious pan sauce more difficult. Maybe just set the chicken aside after you've browned it, wipe the excess oil out of the pan, then toss the chicken back in and throw it in the oven.... I'll try that next time.

This is the easiest and most impressive way to cook chicken. You can also toss quartered baby potatoes in oil and whatever seasonings you like, and cook them in the same pan as the chicken.

Here's the recipe (it's long, but I promise it's uncomplicated):

Julie's Easy and Amazing Stuffed Chicken Breast
Serves 2

2 tbsp olive oil, divided
¼ cup red bell pepper, chopped
¼ cup shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups spinach
¼ cup unripened goat cheese
2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
½ cup chicken broth (the lower sodium the better)
¼ cup white wine
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp unsalted butter

1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Soak 2 wooden skewers in hot water. Set aside.
3. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet.
4. Add red pepper and shallot and cook until softened.
5. Reduce heat to medium and add spinach and garlic.
6. When garlic is wilted, stir in goat cheese and let it melt.
7. Set filling aside to cool.
8. Cut a pocket into the thickest part of the chicken breasts. Fill with stuffing and sew shut with wooden skewer. Or simply pull skin over the pocket.
9. Thoroughly salt and pepper the outside of the chicken.
10. Heat remaining oil in a skillet over high heat. Sear chicken, skin-side down first, until well browned. When chicken lifts easily from pan, flip and brown the other side.
11. Wipe excess oil out of the pan, place skillet in oven and cook until internal temperature reaches 160°F –about 25 minutes (make sure you’re measuring the temperature of the chicken, not the filling).
12. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
13. Put pan back on burner and heat over medium high. Pour in ½ cup chicken broth and scrape up brown bits. Add wine and lemon juice and allow sauce to reduce.
14. When sauce has reduced by half, stir in butter.
15. Pour sauce over chicken and serve.

Pairs nicely with a ten-dollar bottle of white wine.


  1. Oh, I love that you can freeze these & they still taste good!

  2. That is one tasty looking stuffed chicken!


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