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Stuffed chicken breasts


snowangel
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Diana's last volleyball game is coming up. She has just been moved up to varsity and the team is having their first winning games. So, just what does this have to do with food?

Young Peter, age 8, has suddenly discovered food, and cooking. Life beyond PB&J.

So, the night of her final game, he has decided that he wants us (me and he) to make chicken breasts stuffed with chicken. I know, gack, chicken breasts. But, he wants to do this. He knows that we need to make the chicken breasts thin, put in cheese (and, as he said, some herbs -- emphasis on the H). Then he said, I think we need to make them so they don't fall apart (I figure skewer or that the chicken will be moist and wet enough to adhere), then put them in flour then egg and then "punk" ( :shock: ) crumb thingies. Assume he meant panko.

But, every time I've tried pounding meat (veal, chicken, pork, whatever) thin, it has been disaster.

Help! Or, should I just butterfly them, put some stuff in them and sew them shut?

Any stuffing suggestions?

I know. This is not something I would normally make. But, he's motivated, and wants this to work. He's excited about cooking and I want to encourage this, since it is lessons on so many levels. I'd like it to be more interesting that just that typical slice of ham and hunk of cheese inside.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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if you grate the cheese and mix it with the herbs and a little seasoning, then with a long bladed thin knife stab the chicken with at the thick end, go about 3/4 of the way down, wiggle the knife nearest the entry point. this will create a small pocket, force the mix into the pocket leaving a bit at the end so the chicken can again meet. press the open end down.

Flour egg then crumb the breast, seal in a moderate pan to get your colour, then finish in a moderate oven (160C-320F) cook this for about 14-15 minutes. just to be on the safe side, carve just as you are serving and lightly grill if it's under done, I would not recomend deep frying cos it will look cooked long before it actually is.

another way is to bat the breast out roll the filling in to it (like a swiss roll - or your american equivalent), then qrap in pigs caul fat before breadcrumbing this should stop any goo from falling out.

hope this helps

Alex.

after all these years in a kitchen, I would have thought it would become 'just a job'

but not so, spending my time playing not working

www.e-senses.co.uk

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I usually use the pocket method. You have to use your thinnest-bladed knife for this job. I don't pound them if I cut a pocket. I DO pound them if I butterfly them--but I think butterflied chicken breasts with stuffing don't tend to close too nicely.

In either case, the breading is to help the chicken stay shut. I'd try to let them set up in the fridge for an hour before cooking to ensure the opening will stay as closed as possible. When you turn them, use a spatula, not tongs--squeezing the breasts is a bad idea.

My mom used to close them with a toothpick but I usually find it isn't necessary if the pocket is not overstuffed and the breading is thick enough.

Stuffing: Duxelles. Spinach and ricotta. Garlic butter, for chicken Kiev. Goat cheese and portabellos.

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Your son sounds like a smart little guy.

Do a modified cordon bleu thing to make everyone happy - take your skinned, boned chicken breast, butterfly it open like a book; put between two sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap and pound gently from the center out. Don't worry about them getting totally even. You should have one large, flat piece of chicken per person.

Add a slice of proscuitto, a slice of cheese (or ham and cheddar, or whatever you think will please your kids). Top with a sage leaf. Fold the chicken into a parcel around it, toothpick closed, and dredge in a bound breading. Add lots of lemon zest and herb to the final breadcrumb step.

Sounds like that would fit Peter's list of requirements exactly. And it's not so awful - the cheese contributes to helping the chicken stay moist, and Peter can help with every step.

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Funny, we are having this for dinner tonight. It's one of those fast and easy things for when time is tight. I use the pocket method, with bone in breasts, and stuff them with goat cheese or ricotta and spinach. It also helps to smear the outside of the breast with a little EVOO and some seasonings, to keep it from drying out completely in the oven or for a double stuff effect, stuff garlic butter under the skin. They aren't half bad.

What's wrong with peanut butter and mustard? What else is a guy supposed to do when we are out of jelly?

-Dad

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I pound out breasts between saran sheets, using my French rolling pin. It can do two breasts at once, and it's makes a nice whack without any sharp edges. The best-ever rolling trick I know is to roll the breast tightly around the filling, then wrap it very tightly in saran and chill it for an hour or so. When you remove the saran the chicken will hold its shape perfectly for cooking. Good luck - boys who want to cook are wonderful.

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best bet for stuffed chix breast is to pop in the freezer after stuffing and forming-just make sure to enclose filling all the way(note a couple of tears in your chix won't kill you, just do you best) . Many people advise egg wash to close but its not needed and messy. After almost frozen, dredge, and pop back in the freeze-this will set up your cheese so it doesn't run at the first sign of heat. If possible, blanch in a deep fryer, into the oven until you see just a hint of your filling(cheese, butter, etc) pooling on your sheet. Sautee or pan fry will work ok but you will be moving the product and can cause the "package" to open if not careful-finish in oven.

I've done a couple of thousand stuffed with you name it. Make sure you season your chix! and keep at or near freezing before blanching/browning off. this can be done ahead of time and held under reefer or frozen again-key is to keep that filling cold.

hth, danny

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Take off the legs so only the breast remains on the breastbone and ribcage. In essence, just take off the bottom half of the chicken, the part that walks on the ground. You should be left with a whole bone in breast that sits upright on a roasting pan.

Cut a slit in the breast, open it up with your finger, and stuff it with your choice of farce.

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I love making stuffed chicken breasts! I have found a few things that really help:

1. When you are pounding them, either put in between plastic wrap or ziplock bags (my preference) that has been sprinkled with a little water. Supposedly, this helps the plastic not break.

2. I use a wooden mallet to pound chicken breasts....if you pound them too hard or too much, they become mush.

3. I think making a pocket in the breasts works best actually.....I cut a slit halfway through, and then widen the slit on the inside with a sharp knife so that most of the breast is "fillable", but not too much of a slit in the front that will have to be closed.

4. I always refrigerate the breasts after stuffing and before cooking for at least 30 minutes. It helps the breading to adhere and stay adhered to the chicken.

5. Pay attention and don't overcook them....they cook quickly.

I prefer to use the pocket method b/c it's simpler to stuff them...rather than spreading the mixture onto a semi-slimy thin breast piece, you only have to stuff the mixture into the pocket which I usually use an ice teaspoon for this task. If you use the pounding method, just use the round wooden toothpicks for closure...it's a good thing to use the same amount in each one so that you can tell your guests how many they should be extracting so that none get ingested inadvertantly. (I have had the misfortune of cooking stuffed chicken breasts and forgetting about them and it was difficult to distinguish the toothpicks from the "woody" edges of the breasts :sad: ).

6. Panko is great for breading, but so is parmesan and sourdough bread crumbs!

Hope you and Peter have fun making them. What a sweet brother he is to want to do this for his sister :wub:

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So, what we did:

We took these boneless breasts (I had them in the freezer because a houseguest showed up with them; I had smoked a butt, so we didn't eat them). Peter pulled them out of the freezer and put them in the fridge to thaw.

When thawed, we pulled the tenderloin parts off and put them in the fridge to use for curry (we will add some thighs) for curry tomorrow night. He and I decided that I should make pockets. We did not butterfly them, I just stuck a boning knife (a really thin, easily sharpened (a J. Marttiini boning knife in a leather sheaf, to be exact) in the wide part of the breast and worked it around so that the pocket inside was bigger than the "hole."

I cleaned out the fridge. I had a mess of spinach (really good because of the long cool summer). A bit of ricotta. Some feta. So, some got feta/spinach, some ricotta/spinach. Plus some basil (last of mine). Blanched the spinach. So, half were ricotta, half feta. We all shared halves. Half of us liked ricotta better, the other half feta.

But, I get ahead of myself. We did another half and half thing. Half of them dredged in flour, then egged, then bread crumbed (acme sourdough with some garlic, s & P). The other half just bread crumbed. The former was far messier, but far more fun if you are 8 and aren't the one mopping the kitchen floor. Browned in a skillet, finished in the same skillet in the oven.

Verdict on the breading thing? Not much difference, in our minds. Skip the flour/egg thing because it is less to clean up.

Served with broccoli that I put in a skillet with some really hot olive oil. Browned bits, then added some chix stock, shallots, garlic, chili flakes.

And, quinoa. I sauteed some minced apples. Removed from pan. Browned some more shallots (they are really cheap here in Asian markets; like $.59/lb) added the quinoa, toasted it (could have gone longer on this), added some chix stock. When done, added back in the apples (I chopped two of them, but Peter and I ate some of them) and then I remembered that handful of cashews, so scrunched them in my hand and added them.

Pretty darned good.

The chicken was good. Not as good as a thigh. Glad I brined those breasts.

Peter was proud of himself. He helped mop up all of the egg gunk off the floor. Cooking with an 8 year old is a bit messier, but far more rewarding than cooking alone.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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