Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Parmesan Stuffed Chicken and Melted Strawberries

Prep Time: 30 minutes Bake: 15 minutes Oven: 400 F Serves: 6

So this delightful summer dish was brought on after I came home from running errands and discovered that my sweet friend had dropped off 1/2 flat of fresh strawberries from the valley (for us Bay Area people that means sweet, melt in your mouth, red all the way through, don't add a thing, God created yummola....yes, I love fresh strawberries!) Upon realizing that these beauties would not last forever I went scrounging through my recipe books to find the perfect recipe for dinner and this is what I found. Now this recipe is fairly straight forward but looks and tastes like a gourmet meal and is quite a treat for whomever you decide to make this for....

  • 3 cups fresh strawberries (halve or quarter large berries)
  • 2 tbsp while balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup strawberry perserves/jam
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 3 lbs)
  • 3 oz parmesan or white cheddar cheese (block)
  • 6 large fresh basil leaves
  • 1TB olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • snipped fresh basil
  1. Side note: I made cooked carrots as a side so I prepped these first. Baby carrots or cut up large carrots, place in 9 x 13 baking pan, drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper. Set aside. Cut up some fresh parsley (or used dry) for serving.

2./ Back to main recipe: Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a 3 quart baking dish combine strawberries, vinegar,a nd jam. Sprinkle salt and pepper; set aside.
3. Cut horizontal pocket in each chicken breast by cutting from one side almost but not through, to the other side. Cut Parmesan cheese in 6- 3 x 1/2 inch pieces. Wrap basil leaf around each piece of cheese, stuff unto chicken breast pocket. Secure pockets closed with wooden toothpicks or skewers. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4. In 12 inch oven safe skillet cook garlic in oil over med heat for 30 sec.
5. Add chicken and cook 5 minutes or until golden brown turning once. Transfer to oven. (side note: add carrots to oven at this time) Bake uncovered, 5 minutes. Add baking dish with strawberry-jam mixture to oven. Bake 10-13 mintues, or until chicken is no longer pink (170f) and the berries are softened and jam mixture has thickened.

Side note: Carrots will take about 20 minutes to cook. Check tenderness with fork- should be able to poke easily.
Sprinkle with parsley to serve.

6. Serve chicken with melted strawberries. Sprinkle with basil.
This meal is pretty simple in ingredients but HUGE on taste. It is not complicated to make, however if you decide to do the insane like me and think making it for 3 families in one night wouldn't be too crazy...well think again:). It isn't that it is overwhelming I just learned I don't have the space with one oven and one good 12 inch skillet to pull it off without a little insanity. If you want to try and make this for a larger crowd it is possible, here is what I tried and it helped:
  • preheat cookie sheets ahead of time (unless you have several oven safe skillets)
  • pound out the chicken breasts, cut in 1/2 length-wise and roll the chicken around the basil- wrapped parmesan cheese. Fasten closed with toothpick. This helps with portion especially if the family you are serving has children (or adults too) who will not eat an entire breast to themselves.
  • After cooking the chicken in the skillet for 5 minutes transfer it to the preheated cookie sheet for the rest of the oven baking.
  • Transfer cooked chicken to disposable foil container/dish and add the strawberries and basil and cover- or put those in separate dishes and allow recipients to top as they please.
However you make this or for how many you make it I am sure it will be quite delicious and oh so appreciated.