Mediterranean Stuffed Chicken

I received this recipe as part of a recipe exchange I participated in. I am pretty sure the process of assigning recipes to participants was random (except for special considerations regarding dietary restrictions, etc) but I feel this recipe was perfectly selected for me. As you’ll see when you read the original text below, it left a lot of options perfect for the creative cook to improvise and embellish. Of course, I really enjoyed that freedom! Here’s the recipe I received via email:

Chicken Breasts with Mediterranean Stuffing
Courtesy of Stonewall Kitchen Favorites

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
5 ounces baby spinach, or regular spinach, stemmed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 4 medium)
4 ounces soft goat cheese or mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
2 tablespoons black olive tapenade, available in specialty food stores
1 tablespoon plus
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup dry white wine

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. When hot, add the garlic, and stir for about 15 seconds. Add the spinach and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the spinach has wilted completely and excess liquid has evaporated, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the spinach to a small plate and set aside to cool slightly.Using a small, sharp knife, cut one chicken breast almost in half horizontally so it opens like a book – the breast meat should still be held together on one long side. Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces. Season the outside of each breast with salt and pepper and open the chicken breasts up on the cutting board.In a small bowl, mix the goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes until well blended.Using your hands, squeeze the excess moisture out of the sauteed spinach. Chop it and spread a quarter of it on one half of each chicken breast. Spread equal amounts of the cheese mixture over the spinach. Then, using a small spoon, spread some of the tapenade on the empty side of each chicken breast. Close the tapenade side of the chicken breast over the cheese, and press gently to adhere.Heat a large skillet over medium heat (you can use the spinach pan; just wipe it out with a paper towel). Add the remaining olive oil and about 1 teaspoon of butter. When the butter has melted, gently place each chicken breast in the pan. Cook for about 6 to 8 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the breast, or until chicken is golden and cooked through and the cheese has melted. (Lift up the pocket flap to check to see if the chicken is thoroughly cooked; there should be no signs of pinkness.) Remove the chicken to a serving plate and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.Raise the heat to high. Add the wine to the skillet. Let the wine cook off for 2 to 3 minutes, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan with a spatula or a wooden spoon. Add the remaining tablespoon butter to the pan, stir until the butter melts, and then pour the sauce over chicken. Serve the chicken whole or sliced.

Favorite Variations:
*Replace the tapenade with store-bought pesto
*Substitute chopped roasted red peppers for the sun-dried tomatoes
*Omit the goat cheese and add a thin slice of Brie or Camembert to each chicken breast
*Add a thin slice of prosciutto to the layers in addition to, or instead of, one of the other ingredients
*Substitute Swiss chard, arugula, or kale for the spinach
*Use sherry or a fairly dry red wine instead of white wine
*Add 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest to the sauce when you add the butter
*Substitute 4 ounces herbed spreadable cheese (such as Boursin) for the goat cheese, and ¼ cup chopped, seeded, ripe tomatoes for the sun-dried tomatoes
*For an entirely new stuffing: substitute ¼ pound crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (1 cup), ¼ cup chopped toasted walnuts, and ¼ cup caramelized onions

Like the recipe suggested, I took some liberty. Rather than purchasing a whole jar of tapenade and sundried tomatoes, I took a little walk around the olive cart in my produce section and selected a few black kalamata olives. Unfortunately there were no sundried tomatoes, so I chose sweet peppadews instead. I will admit, I was a little nervous about the strong flavor of the olives in the stuffing, but it worked really well with the sweetness of the peppers. Also, I just used some chopped fresh spinach – no need to cook it. I had trouble getting my chicken to cook all the way through, so I added the wine to the pan (I had the chicken secured with toothpicks), brought it to a simmer, placed the chicken in the wine, and covered the pan to let it cook through. I also added some lemon juice when I added the wine. I then plated the chicken and reduced the wine. I served this with a side of sauteed broccoli rabe. Delicious! Thanks for the recipe!

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8 Responses to “Mediterranean Stuffed Chicken”

  1. 1

    MrsPresley — February 15, 2008 @ 4:48 am Reply

    this looks delicious! i love goat cheese and sun dried tomato together

  2. 2

    Melissa — February 15, 2008 @ 8:03 am Reply

    Glad you liked it! I want to make it again with different fillings. I LOVE that cookbook because all of the recipes have tons of different options like that. By the way, the pomegranite chicken below looks wonderful…I’ll have to try that.

  3. 3

    ~Amber~ — February 15, 2008 @ 4:06 pm Reply

    This sounds really good. Thank you for sharing.

  4. 4

    Kevin — February 16, 2008 @ 2:30 am Reply

    This sounds so tasty! There are so many great flavours packed into it. I also really like the sound of the gorgonzola, walnut and caramelized onions variant.

  5. 5

    Our Red House — February 16, 2008 @ 6:32 pm Reply

    Yum. That looks delicious.Kate

  6. 6

    Kate — February 19, 2008 @ 3:35 am Reply

    That recipe does sound perfect for you!

  7. 7

    MrsPresley — April 5, 2011 @ 1:17 am Reply

    this looks delicious! i love goat cheese and sun dried tomato together

  8. 8

    Our Red House — April 5, 2011 @ 1:17 am Reply

    Yum. That looks delicious.Kate

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