Sunday, August 30, 2009

Spring Chicken

The whole stuffed chicken breast thing is a bit old fashioned and retro I know, but I wanted something more than just a plain old grilled chicken breast for dinner last night. I put together a simple but really tasty filling of ricotta and italian flavours and served it with some beautiful green peas and beans jazzed up with mint and fetta for a fresh side dish. The result was a dish that felt very spring.

Chicken breast is always the least flavoursome of the various cuts of chicken, and it is always a challenge to cook it through whilst keeping it moist and succulent. I can't count the number of times I've been served overcooked, dry and tasteless chicken! The technique I used for this recipe is a great way to ensure that your chicken breast stays moist and retains as much flavour as possible. Sear first, then bake in the oven and be sure to rest it before serving for a tender result.

I made this dish up as I went along last night, but I think I will be cooking it again. The lightness of the dish and the lovely fresh flavours were really enjoyable. It would make a great do-ahead dinner party dish - just prepare the chicken a few hours ahead up to the searing stage and refrigerate until you are ready to cook it. The side dish only takes a few minutes, so you could have everything done in under half an hour. Anyway, here it is......

Ricotta, olive and tomato filled breast of chicken

with minted beans and fetta

You will need: For the chicken (Per person)1 skinless chicken breast, 1 tablespoon ricotta, 1 teaspoon chopped black olives, 1 teaspoon grated parmesan, 1 teaspoon semi dried tomatoes, 1 teaspoon finely chopped spring onion, salt and pepper, olive oil.

For the side dish:(Serves up to 4) 1 cup peas, 1/2 cup sliced green beans, 1/2 cup peeled broad beans, 1 tablespoon finely sliced fresh mint, 2 tablespoons crumbled fetta, pepper, salt, a squeeze of fresh lemon (plus some extra lemon slices to serve), extra virgin olive oil.

Method: Combine the ricotta, olives, parmesan semi dried tomatoes, spring onion and salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside.

Carefully cut a deep pocket in the chicken breast/s. Gently fill the cavity with the stuffing. Rub the outside of the chicken with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a frypan/grill pan and sear the chicken till golden on both sides. Transfer the chicken to a baking dish and bake in a moderate oven for about 15 mins. Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

To prepare the veges - steam the green beans, peas and broad beans. When cooked, toss through the mint, fetta, salt and pepper and a generous splash of olive oil. Serve with the chicken and some extra lemon and be sure to pour any juices from the chicken over the dish.


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