Posts Tagged ‘juicy chicken’

Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breast

November 13, 2009

I always laugh when I see estimated times given on “quick” recipes, and I think to myself that if I had a full kitchen prep staff to do all my chopping/dicing/grinding/pre-measuring and then set my ingredients out in nice little bowls (reference any cooking show on Food Network) I, too, could manage a four course dinner (made completely from scratch) in under 15 minutes!

Mama's Little Helper Part 2 IMG_4350

Kitchen Staff

Meet my own personal “Kitchen Prep Staff”…he is excellent at systematically unloading each and every kitchen cabinet while I work on dinner!  Anyone with a toddler will understand if I say I cook in the “Stork Pose”

Stork Pose 001a

Stork Pose

(defined as the pose used by a toddler mom who’s hands are busy with cooking/pouring laundry soap into the washer/trying to put on makeup; it involves balancing on one food while using the other to keep a child out of a cabinet/the toilet/the dog food bowl/etc.)   If you laugh at my sad attempt to illustrate this, you will then need to email me something better which I can post instead ;-)

That being said, if I can manage prep for this delish recipe in under 30 minutes with a hungry and ADHD toddler running amuck in my kitchen, I think it is worthy of a “Supper Quick” post!  

While this is not technically a quick recipe…it’s also not nearly as involved as it sounds, and for just a little extra effort turns out the most divine chicken!  This is what I call “Mother-in-law Chicken”, meaning it’s the perfect recipe to pull out when you are in a hurry but need a main course with which to wow your mother-in-law with your culinary prowess ;-)

Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Prep Time: 20 minutes / Cook Time: 20 minutes / Yield: 2 large breasts (feeds 3-4)

  1. Brine chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
  2. In a skillet, saute 1/3 cup chopped onion in olive oil until it begins to turn translucent; add 1 cup chopped spinach (or slightly less), 1/3 cup chopped mushrooms1/4+ tsp salt, and a pat of butter and saute until spinach is wilted.  Set aside in a small bowl to cool; when cool, mix in 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella and a sprinkling of feta.  Keep your skillet out as you will need it again (no need to wash it!) 
    Spinach Stuffed Chicken Part 1a

    Spinach Filling

     

  3. Butterfly chicken breasts and flatten to 1/4 inch

    Butterfly Chicken

    Butterfly Chicken Breasts

  4. Coat chicken with Italian Dressing, both inside and outside; sprinkle liberally with mixture of seasoned breadcrumbs, basil and parmesan cheese (or you can use plain breadcrumbs and add Italian Seasoning)
  5. Fill chicken breasts with spinach mixture, fold over and secure with twine or toothpicks.

    Spinach Stuffed Chicken Part 1

    Fill with Spinach Mixture

  6. Transfer chicken to skillet and sear in melted butter for just a couple minutes on each side until outside is golden.

    Spinach Stuffed Chicken Part 2

    Sear stuffed breasts before baking

  7. Transfer to oven proof baking dish and top with grated cheddar and mozzarella; bake covered at 350°F for 20 minutes, removing cover for the last 5 minutes to let cheese brown.  

    Spinach Stuffed Chicken Part 3

    Bake and Enjoy!

  8. Enjoy!  Serve with baked Butternut Squash, angel hair pasta, and warm dinner rolls.

Brining Chicken

October 26, 2009

Ever heard of brining chicken?  Ever tried it?

I recently ran across this tip and it quickly became standard practice in my kitchen.  Brining chicken breasts before you cook them helps them stay tender and moist; this is by far the best way to ensure mouth-watering, juicy chicken and has helped me cut down on the butter and oil I use when seasoning them.   You can also try brining your turkey and pork! 

Although there are a number of variations for brine solutions and recommended marinating times, they all start with about the same basic recipe:  Dissolve 1/4 cup salt and 1/4 cup sugar in 4 cups water

Some tips…

  • The type of salt you use makes a difference in taste; Kosher salt is recommended, and from experience I can tell you it does taste better than iodised table salt.  If you do use table salt, measure slightly less (because table salt crystals are so much finer than Kosher salt you will end up with a salter brine when using the same amount of table salt).
  • Although I’ve not tried it yet, I’ve seen recommendations for using brown sugar rather than whiteComing soon…I plan to try doing that with boneless pork chops before pan-frying with an orange marmalade sauce.  I’ll let you know how it turns out ;-)
  • Brining Time Table:  for boneless chicken breasts, 15 minutes at room temp or up to 2 hours in the fridge.
  • Go ahead and add seasoning to your brine mixture; bay leaves, fresh sprigs of herbs, lemon wedges, onions, etc.

So next time you are going to cook up a batch of chicken breasts and have just a few extra minutes, try brining them first and let me know what you think! 

The Step-by-Step:

  1. Trim chicken, flatten (if desired), and place in glass baking dish
  2. Cover with brine solution and let marinate for 15 minutes (or up to 2 hours in the fridge)
  3. Pour brine solution off chicken and pat dry (you can rinse if you wish, but I haven’t found this necessary)
  4. Season as desired and cook as usual for moist and mouth-watering chicken breasts!