Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomato Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I love having dinner guests. It gives me an excuse to go all-out and cook meals way beyond what we would normally have for dinner. So when Psycling said that he wanted to invite a friend for dinner so they could talk shop, I was all for it. I've been wanting to blog about my Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken breasts, and this was the perfect opportunity to make it! I have to admit, it was really good, and the Zinfandel Psycling chose to have with it was the perfect complement!

This was one of my first original recipes. I came up with it when I went to visit a friend in Boston. She had just moved into her condo and had limited things in the kitchen. I wanted to make her dinner to thank her for hosting me, and looked around her kitchen to see what inspired me. After a quick trip to the grocery store, this is what came together. It's gone through several iterations and revisions since that first time, and I've finally gotten it to a version I'm happy with.

Goat Cheese & Sun-Dried Tomato Stuffed Chicken Breasts
(Serves 4)
1/2 head garlic
4 oz log of goat cheese
2 Tbs. minced sun-dried tomatoes
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil (divided)
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. marjoram
salt & pepper to taste
1 small onion
1 red bell pepper
2-3 Tbs. olive oil
4 chicken breasts
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
Several strands of kitchen twine or toothpicks for holding rolls together.

1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
2. Drizzle garlic with a little bit of olive oil and wrap in foil. Roast at 425 for 45 minutes, or until soft and fragrant. Allow to cool then separate cloves.
3. While garlic is roasting, chop onion and red bell pepper, and place in a small roasting pan. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. of basil and toss together.
4. Combine goat cheese, tomatoes, oregano, remaining 3/4 tsp. basil, thyme, marjoram, and salt and pepper. Add garlic when ready, and mix together until smooth.
5. Chop onion and red bell pepper, and place in a small roasting pan. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 tsp. of basil and toss.

6. Place chicken breasts between layers of heavy duty plastic wrap, and use meat mallet or small pan to pound breasts to about 1/4" thickness. Spread 1/4 of the goat cheese mixture on each breast. Roll up chicken breasts (as seen on the right) and use kitchen twine or toothpicks to hold together.
7. Heat 1-2 Tbs. olive oil in a medium to large skillet. While oil is heating, place pan of vegetables in 425F degree oven. Place chicken rolls in skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes, rotating rolls until browned all over. Remove chicken from skillet and place over vegetables in roasting pan. Cook until chicken is cooked through (about 25 minutes), and thermometer inserted into thickest portion reads at least 155F.
8. Remove vegetables from pan, and toss together with balsamic vinegar.

To serve, place chicken roll on plate, remove kitchen twine or toothpick, and top with about 1/4 c. of vegetable mixture.

Add a green salad and some Italian Bread, and you have a wonderful meal!

A few notes about this recipe: I usually use the oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, but you can also use the dried ones. Just be sure to reconstitute them by soaking in hot water for about 30 minutes before adding them to the goat cheese. I also find that my hands tend to be the best kitchen tool for mixing the goat cheese. It makes it much easier to really ensure that everything gets mixed together well.

I have made this recipe now several times, and it never fails to get rave reviews.

We finished the meal with a fabulous, rich, flourless Chocolate Cake, but you'll just have to check back later to get that recipe.