Friday, January 13, 2012

Chicken with Brie and Spinach - elegant and easy!

Huge Hollywood snowflakes are falling here in Ottawa. Up to 10 cm is one the way today. The Rideau Canal Skateway will be open for skating very soon. Winterlude, snowslides, Beavertails..Yahoo! Oh right, the chicken recipe...May I suggest this elegant little ditty? Thank you to Malena for inspiring me to share it. This dish is easy to prepare and looks lovely on the plate with a little cooked Quinoa, rice, or roasted potatoes and some colourful green veggies like beans, bok choy, or asparagus! Guest worthy and picture worthy too.

Chicken Breasts with Brie Cheese and Spinach, Basil or Sage

(Serves 4)

If you like you may serve this elegant little ditty with Red Pepper Coulis or Cilantro Pesto, recipes are below.

For this recipe you will need these kitchen items:

  • · a shallow baking dish to contain the chicken pieces without crowding them,
  • · cotton or oven safe kitchen string (i.e. NOT nylon or string with plastic in it) or thin skewers.

Also, for food safety, I find it is helpful to have all of your ingredients prepared, string pieces cut or skewers on hand, cutting boards ready, baking dish prepped…just like they do on the cooking shows! This way you’re not fishing around the kitchen looking for stuff with chicken juice all over your hands.

· 4 boneless chicken breasts (about 150-200 g each)

· Salt and pepper

  • 125 g Brie cheese, sliced into 4 even pieces
  • ¼ cup hazelnuts or pine nuts, toasted and chopped
  • ½ cup fresh spinach, sage or basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp seasoned or plain breadcrumbs (Optional)
  • ¾ red pepper coulis or cilantro pesto (buy or make you own, recipes are below)
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley (to sprinkle over top, just before serving)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line the baking dish will foil or lightly spray grease the dish to prevent the chicken from sticking.

NOTE: You will be making a pocket-like cavity in the chicken breast, then adding in the stuffing. I find this is a good way to add stuffing (like cheese) to a meat or fish, instead of rolling it up. This pocket method prevents the cheese from drizzling out of the meat during the baking stage.

Using a sharp cutting knife, use the tip to make a deep slit (like a pocket) along the side of the chicken breast almost to the other side BUT not quite. Keep the ends in tacked, creating a cavity to place the stuffing. The slice should be deep and wide enough to hold the stuffing. Lightly season with salt and pepper.

Place a cheese slice into the pocket of the chicken breast. (Be sure to place the cheese deep into the pocket, to prevent it from oozing out while baking.) Then sprinkle the nuts on top of the cheese, and squish in the spinach, sage or basil leaves on top. Close the open edge by weaving a thin skewer along the seam or you may tie the breast together with string, like a present with a little bow on top to seal it shut.

Do the same with the next 3 chicken breasts.

Place the chicken parcels in the baking dish and brush them with the olive oil. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top if you wish. Bake for 25 – 35 minutes. To be sure the chicken and filling are cooked, insert a meat thermometer into the very centre of the chicken parcel. When it registers 180F, it’s done! Serve with Red Pepper coulis or Cilantro Pesto, if you wish. Sprinkle chopped parsley on top.

Quick Red Pepper Coulis:

1 cup bottle roasted peppers, drained

4 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

Pinch of salt and pepper

Whir all ingredients together in a mini food chopper OR chop by hand and whisk ingredients together. Serve coulis or pesto with chicken in a small serving bowl or drizzle over top each chicken parcel and serve immediately.

Cilantro Pesto:

1 cup Cilantro leaves-finely chopped

3 large garlic cloves

3 tbsp white-wine vinegar

3 tbsp olive oil

Finely chop cilantro and place in a bowl. Mince garlic and add to cilantro. Whisk in vinegar, then oil. Or place all sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree.

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