I love things that are filled with things. I.e. cookies inside cookies or the cherpumple, which is on my to-do in life list (3 pies inside 3 cakes). It'll happen.. especially if I have kids. Can you say, best/worst mother ever?
Chicken is a very hit or miss thing for me. I hate plain, sauteed chicken. I hate roasted chicken. And I'm not sold on chicken wings. I do, however, love nut/herb encrusted chicken and stuffed chicken—you know, things that add some pizzazz to that carcass on your plate. ( I certainly know how to make food sound appealing )
These chicken recipes are fun but things can get out of hand very fast. For one, try to make sure the slit you cut doesn't come out the other end of the chicken. Secondly, the ricotta stuffing tends to seep out like The Blob, so just do your best to contain it. My chicken breasts were so large (hehe) and difficult to handle that instead of dipping them in flour, egg, and the crumbs, I manually slathered them in each.
I love both these recipes for difference reasons. The pear one is more rustic tasting, especially since my pear was not fully softened or ripe yet but very crisp. Beautiful with sage. The ricotta one is very much Italian comfort chicken and probably generally more appealing, and I love the addition of tomatoes for juicy acidity. They both come out moist, but if you're looking for a sauce pairing, I'd go with honey mustard for the pear gruyere chicken and a tomato sauce for the ricotta basil tomato.
You may want to double the recipe, as each is for one breast.
P.S. Keep track of how many toothpicks you use to hold the chicken together. Potential night-ruiner.
Pecan-Panko Crusted Chicken with Pear, Sage, Gruyere Stuffing Adapted from The Passionate Cook
1 chicken breast
3 Tbsp Panko breadcrumbs
3 Tbsp pecans, ground up
2 sage leaves, chopped
1 pear, cut into wedges
2 Tbsp Gruyere, grated
Salt and Pepper to season
1 large egg (lightly beaten with a fork)
1 tbsp flour
2 Tbsp olive oil for frying
Turn oven on to 350
Cut incision horizontally to form pocket which will accomodate the stuffing. Place sage, cheese, and two pear wedges the pocket. Season well. Combine the breadcrumbs and pecans in a large flat plate.
Dredge chicken in the flour, then the egg and finish off with the crumb mixture.
Fry in olive oil until browned, about 4 minutes each side. Place in the oven for 20-25 mins or until the inside is fully cooked (depends on size of chicken). A meat thermometer should register 160 degrees. You can do this at the same time as the chicken below, if making both.
Panko Crusted Chicken Stuffed with Ricotta, Tomatoes, and Basil Adapted from From the Love of Cooking
1/2 cup of low fat ricotta cheese
1/4 tomato, diced
1 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
3 tbsp basil, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
Pinch of sugar (1/4 tsp ish)
Dash of Italian Herbs
1 chicken breast
Italian seasoned panko crumbs
2 tsp olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the ricotta, tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, basil, garlic, sugar, herbs, sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste. (Can also add other ingredients, like spinach, chopped onion, olives, etc.) Thoroughly combine.
Cut a long horizontal slit along the center, nearly through to the other side. Season each side of the chicken with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste. Fill with the ricotta mixture. Dredge in flour. Dip the chicken breasts in beaten egg and then into the panko crumbs until both sides are evenly covered. Close the slit together with toothpicks (mine was huge, so it took 4).
Heat the olive oil in a skillet on the stove over medium high heat. Cook for 4 minutes on each side. Place chicken in a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. A meat thermometer should register 160 degrees.
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