Monday, October 17, 2016

Apple & Gouda Stuffed Chicken Breasts

About 10 years ago I stumbled on a recipe for cheddar and apple stuffed chicken breasts. It sounded delicious, and very autumnal, so I was sold. At that point I was a beginner cook, at best. The recipe called for chicken breasts for be pounded thin, stuffed with filling, then rolled up and baked. It was a disaster. Picture raw chicken pieces flying from under my meat mallet, while those poor breasts were torn to bits by an overzealous beating. Then there was my brilliant attempt to save them by piling what poultry scraps were left onto a baking sheet and plopping gobs of cheesy apple stuffing on top. They may be the worst thing to ever come out of my kitchen. So, when I came across a picture of a gorgeous platter of apple stuffed chicken breasts on Pinterest, I decided that I needed a chance at redemption.

Sans meat mallet.

It pleases me down to my perfectionist soul to be able to present a relatively easy, delicious recipe for Apple & Gouda Stuffed Chicken Breasts. Which, to my amazement, came together on the first try. Even with my aversion to touching raw meat. 

Let’s get down to business.

You will need…

 Four boneless skinless chicken breasts.

One or two apples, depending on their size. I used Macintosh, because they are my favorite, but any slightly tart, firm baking apple will work.

Four ounces of Gouda cheese, shredded.

A half of a cup of seasoned bread crumbs. Store bought can be used, but I find that making my own saves money and taste better. I use the leftover ends of our bread loaves. Just zip them together in a food processor with some dried thyme and parsley flakes. They can be spread out on a cookie sheet and left in a cool, dry place, such as a pantry shelf, for two or three days, or until all of their moisture has evaporated. Store them in a tightly closed container for up to a month.

Two shallots, sliced to about a quarter inch thickness…

and sautè over medium-low heat in a tablespoon of butter (I use Kerrygold, a good grassfed butter, for all of my cooking and baking), until tender and golden.

In a small bowl combine bread crumbs, diced apples, shredded gouda, and slightly cooled sautéed scallions, with a few pinches of sea salt. 

Gently toss together until the stuffing is evenly mixed. Set aside and move on to preparing the chicken breasts.

 This here made all the difference. 

In lieu of pounding and rolling the chicken, I decided to cut pockets. I’m a genius! (Not really…I read this on a similar recipe.)
Using a sharp knife cut a deep pocket into each breast. Be careful not to butterfly or cut through it. Leave at least a half inch on the sides and bottom, so the filling won’t be able escape.

Fill each pocket with 1/4 of the stuffing mix.

Pack it as full as possible, without tearing the chicken.

Secure each breast with toothpicks. I used between 4 and 5 per breast. If you have areas that do tear, you can use the toothpicks to mend the holes. Simply insert the toothpick through one end of the hole and secure it to the opposite end. Just remember that it is there when it comes time to remove the toothpicks. That could be an unpleasant surprise.

Season each side of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.

Once the chicken is prepared, heat two tablespoons of butter over medium to medium-high heat in a large cast iron (or other ovenproof) skillet.

I prefer butter over olive oil because of its ability to withstand heat without degrading…and it just tastes better. 

Add the chicken to the skillet and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until it is a nice golden brown. (Note: I put mine on bottom side up first…I should have done the opposite.)

Carefully flip each breast and cook for another 5 minutes.

Using a potholder, transfer the entire pan to a 425 degree oven for an additional 30 minutes...or until the internal temperature of the breasts reach 165 degrees.

While the chicken bakes, pour 1/2 cup of apple cider and 1/4 cup of a good white wine (that is so Ina, of me) into a measuring glass.

Once the chicken comes out of the oven, immediately plate it, leaving all of the buttery juices and chicken bits in the skillet. Transfer the skillet to the stovetop and bring contents to a bubble over medium-high heat. 

If the bottom of the pan seems to be lacking in butter, add another tablespoon.

Pour the cider and wine mixture into the skillet, whisking into it the contents of the bottom of the pan.

Whisking frequently, cook until reduced by at least half, and forms a thick, syrupy sauce.

While the sauce is reducing, remove the toothpicks from each breast.

Pour sauce over the plated Chicken breasts and they are ready to serve.

Apple & Gouda Stuffed Chicken Breasts
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1-2 apples, chopped, about 1 cup
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) Gouda cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bead crumbs (recipe below)
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Seasoned Bread Crumbs
  • 2 slices of day old bread (The ends from a loaf of bread work well!)
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
Preheat oven to 425°
1. Over medium heat, sauté sliced shallots in about one tablespoon of butter, until tender and golden. Set aside to cool.
2. Combine diced apples, Gouda, bread crumbs, cooled shallots and a few pinches of salt in a medium mixing bowl. Toss together gently.
3. Cut pockets into each chicken breast, leaving at least 1/2 inch of space around the edges.
4. Fill each breast with 1/4 of the stuffing mixture, and secure closed with toothpicks.
5. Over medium to medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in an ovenproof skillet.
6. Carefully add stuffed chicken breasts to the skillet. Cook for 5-7 minutes per side, or until golden brown.
7. Place the entire skillet on the middle rack of the preheated oven.
8. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°.
9. Once the chicken is cooked through, remove form the oven and place on a platter.
10. Immediately transfer the skillet, with juices and chicken bits, to the stovetop and bring back to a bubble over medium-high heat.
11. Add apple cider and white wine to the skillet and whisking briskly. Cook until reduced by half and forms a syrupy sauce.
12. Pour the sauce over the plated chicken breasts.
Serve immediately.



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