Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chicken Stuffed with Spinach, Goat Cheese and Mushrooms

This winter I had invited guests for dinner, checking as they accepted my invitation if there was anything they could not or preferred not to eat. One guest replied seafood - both shell and regular fish. Whoops! There went most of the main dishes I had anticipated serving. I had a feeling that if I did a vegetarian entrée, this group would expect the main course to follow and since they were about my age I did not want to drag out the overused Chicken Marbella. I though of my Pollo Relleno recipe, liked the idea but decided it was too spicy for this group so created this "variation". It was met with much success. Like Pollo Relleno and Chicken Marbella this is an excellent dinner party dish because it can be prepared entirely ahead of time - just place in a preheated oven about half an hour before serving.

When I tried this recipe pre-dinner party, the individual pieces looked very large. I tried slicing (see photos) and found this not only looked much more attractive but allowed the option for guests to adjust their serving size to their appetite.

The following recipe serves 2 - adjust quantities for expected number of guests.

Sauté:

1 t olive oil (heat first)
1 small shallot, peeled and finely minced, until golden brown, then add:

6-8 (depending on size) mushrooms (I use crimini, baby bella, shitake or a mix of these)
and continue cooking 2-3 minutes over medium heat, then add:

3.5 oz spinach (if not using baby spinach remove stem, including vein that  runs down the middle of the leaf and tear into small pieces) and cook just until spinach wilts.
                      
Set aside.

Separate, if necessary:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, ~3/4 to 1# total

then slice lengthwise down the middle, almost but not completely through, to form a large pocket


Place the chicken on a washable plate, plastic cutting board or wax paper and open each piece so the two sides lie flat. Place 1/2 of the mushroom - spinach mixture on each piece. Then place, lengthwise on top of the  center of the mixture

2/3 - 1 oz of goat cheese (I use goat cheese with herbs).

Then fold the pieces together. Chicken breasts can be prepared to this point and refrigerated for several hours. The following step should be done preferably no more than an hour or two before baking.

Dip each breast piece (both sides) in:

1 egg, beaten (I have on occasion used 1/8 c Redi Egg - 1 egg will actually do 4-6 pieces -  but I think in this case using the real egg is better)

and then immediately (again, both sides) in:

~1/3 c panko (more or less depending on size of chicken; I usually use Whole Food's spinach panko but have also used their lemon-herb panko and sun-dried tomato panko). Place on non-stick or (olive) oiled cooking pan. If not cooking immediately return to refrigerator.

Place in pre-heated 350 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes (for a medium sized breast) until the chicken is cooked through and opaque (~165 degrees F) and the panko is browned.

Serve individual pieces plated...



...or slice into 3/4 to 1 inch thick pieces and serve on a platter.

Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs (optional).



I often serve with Weeds with Pecans and Fruit and a wild/brown rice mix.

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