Wednesday, August 4, 2010

chicken again?

tired of boring old chicken for dinner AGAIN? or do you want something different and are afraid your kids won't eat it, so why bother? here is a great solution that will make both the foodie in you happy and still be family, namely kid friendly.
the other night i needed to test some recipes for a client and still needed dinner for my family, so i combined the two. the surprise? everyone was happy!
i have a client who is bored with their everyday recipes and wants to try something new. chicken is a staple in their home, so i put something together that requires a little work, but nothing to over the top. the plus is, it can be made and placed in the refrigerator ahead of time and then the actual meal on the table is about 20 mins.
so hear it is.....

spinach and cheese stuffed chicken breasts

for the filling:

2 cups baby spinach
1 shallot, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1/4 teas fresh ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
hot sauce to taste
2 tbls of cream cheese, room temp
2 tbls of goat cheese, room temp
2 tbsp on olive oil

heat olive oil in saute pan on med-low heat and add shallots, cook for 2-3 mins stirring often being carefully not to over brown. add spinach and garlic and coat with olive oil and shallots. the spinach will immediately start to wilt so turn off heat and season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and hot sauce. place mixture in bowl to cool slightly, after it is cooled a bit, add cheeses and incorporate.

for the chicken:

4 thinly pounded chicken breasts**
2 thinly pounded chicken breast cut into tenders**
2 cups panko bread crumbs
2 cups italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated ramano cheese
1 cup flour
2 eggs beaten
salt and pepper to taste
3 generous tbls of vegetable oil

make a assembly line of three shallow bowls and a sheet pan covered with wax paper or foil. in first bowl add flour, second bowl add beaten eggs, third bowl bread crumb and cheese mixture.
at this point you may season flour and bread crumbs with salt and pepper to your liking, a little or a lot.
first the family friendly, just in case they won't eat my fabulous creation, chicken tenders.
set aside the four chicken breasts and move on to the tenders. dip each piece, first in flour, then egg and then bread crumb mixture, making sure to coat each side. place on baking sheet. repeat until all are breaded.
now moving on to the i'm not sick of chicken any more creation.
place all four pieces of chicken on a flat surface covered with wax paper. take about a large spoonful of the spinach mixture and spread on the chicken leaving a 1/4 inch border all the way around. you should have a little bit of the mixture left over, set it aside for now. from the skinny end of the chicken, begin to roll each piece, don't worry if they are not perfect, just do your best. after take each roll and repeat the breading process, flour, eggs, bread crumbs and place on cookie sheet.
at this point, cover and place in refrigerator for a least 15 mins, to 1 day ahead. remove from refrigerator about 2-3 mins before cooking.
time to cook:
heat oil in a pan big enough to place all four rolls in at the same time. place a cookie sheet with paper towels for draining, next to your cooking area.
when oil starts to sizzle, a good way to check is to place the handle of a wooden spoon in the oil and see if the oil bubbles, if it does you are good to go.
first, cook off the tenders, place each piece in pan and flip in about 2-3 mins, when they are golden brown, remove from pan and place on paper towels to drain.
now, take your rolled chicken and place in pan, rolls to each side, browning as you go, again maybe 2-3 mins. now if filling oozes out a bit, don't panic it will still taste great. when golden brown remove from pan and place on paper towels to drain. now here's a trick to keeping them warm and crispy while you finish up your sauce and meal. place on serving dishes and put in a 200 degree oven.
** you can purchase thinly sliced chicken or make your own by pounding it out, entirely up to you, your time frame and your cooking comfort level. as you can tell, mine are perfect either, but they still tasted fabulous.

for the sauce:

leftover spinach mixture
1/4 cup of chicken stock

and a simple salad of tomatoes, cucumber, black olives and arugula in a light in the same pan as you did the chicken, drain off excess oil and place back on stove top on med-low heat. add chicken stock to pan, scraping up bits and pieces off the bottom of pan, add the rest of spinach mixture and melt into chicken stock, remove from heat. to serve pour sauce over chicken. you can use this sauce for the chicken tenders too, or for your picky eater, ketchup, ranch dressing, mustard it all works. i served our chicken with some light sides of red quinoavinaigrette of olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper. again for the kiddos cucumbers and olives.
the result is everyone is happy, and you never know, your kids may like it too!! i know my daughter did and happily ate the whole meal, my son, stuck to the chicken tenders with ketchup. and myself, a new recipe, a happy tummy and a dinner with no fuss or complaints. you can have fun with this recipe, by changing up what you stuff the chicken with, or even venture out and use pork, the point is now you know the process, the rest is up to you.

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