Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Stuffed Chicken

stuffed chicken breastI usually like anything that's stuffed. Fish, chicken, veggies, mmmmmm! If it's got something in it, chances are I'll try it (though, there are some exceptions).

I had recently read about an interesting recipe for chicken roulade. The stuffing was a mix of asparagus and goat cheese (among other things) and sounded like it would be very good. But of course, I had neither fresh asparagus (canned or jarred might've been too mushy) and no feta (that's almost a crime!).... but I still wanted to give this a shot.

So, I used what I had... and made my very first roulade! (well, sort of...) I think this could be fun to experiment with different filling combinations. For now, this is what I threw together. This was enough for two, served with some rice and veggies.

This is what I used:

1 celery stalk, 3 baby carrots, 1/2 small onion, diced fine (also called a mirepoix)
butter, about 4 TBS
1/2 - 3/4 cup bread crumbs (I used Italian flavored)
1 boneless chicken breast
nonstick cooking spray
wooden toothpicks

Line a baking/roasting pan with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. An oven-safe container without foil, but sprayed with the nonstick spray will work nicely too.

Heat up a small sauce pan and add the butter. Once melted, add the diced celery, onion, and carrot mixture and let that saute a bit on very low heat, stirring occasionally.

Lay out a large sheet of clear plastic wrap (I did this on a cutting board) and place your chicken breast on top towards one side, and cover with the remaining plastic. You want the piece of chicken to be in the center. With the flat side of a meat tenderizer (food mallet, can bottom, anything that's hard, unbreakable, that you can use to) flatten the chicken breast until it's a little (flatter and) wider than what you started with. You want it thin enough to roll but thick enough to be able to hold the stuffing.

This took me a little time because I didn't want to create any holes so I didn't bang too hard. Basically you need to pound the meat in the center (or) where it's the thickest and slide outwards. Also, I'm not sure which side is the better side to pound, but if this breast had skin (it didn't, but if it did), I pounded the skin side (and flipped the piece over before adding the filling). It just seemed like the other side was more delicate and might tear too easily.

Add the breadcrumbs to the butter, celery, carrot, and onion mixture and stir to mix well. Take off the heat.

Remove the top layer of plastic wrap from your chicken and spoon on your filling, with more filling on the wider end because you will roll from here. Don't over-stuff! Too much stuffing just ends up oozing out the sides of the roll (like in the picture below). It's ok if you have extra filling, it can be wrapped in foil and cooked separately.

stuffed chicken breast
Using the plastic wrap to help you, but being careful not to include the plastic wrap inside the chicken, roll your flattened chicken breast from the wider side to the narrower side (though now, I wonder if it would've been better to roll from the narrower side to the wider side). Use two-4 toothpicks to secure. Still using the plastic wrap to hold your roll, place your rolled chicken open/seam side down on your prepared baking dish and then discard the wrap.

Use a fork or wooden toothpick to gently poke some holes along the top and sides of the roll. Shake on some pepper. Bake (uncovered) until the juices run clear (when poked with a toothpick).

I cooked this in a toaster oven on high (450-500°F), for about 35-40 minutes. In a regular oven, I'd start checking it after 25 min (at 350°F). Also cut it in half to be sure it was cooked through. First time making this, seemed like a good idea to make sure.

Maybe next time I'll try rolling the other way (narrow end to wide end) and see if that's easier. I didn't have time to refrigerate the roll for a few hours before cooking it, but doing so might've prevented the filling from oozing out a bit too. So that, along with a different filling mixture is something to consider the next time I try this.

Although it's nothing like the recipe that sparked the urge to try this type of thing, all in all, I'd say it came out pretty good.