Thursday, January 26, 2012

Olive stuffed chicken breast

I love chicken breast. I always have some hanging around, it's easy to cook and it's usually a crowd pleaser. Let's face it though, chicken can get boring. Whenever I feel like I'm in a bit of a chicken rut I poke around my fridge and pantry and try and find something to stuff the chicken with. This has two benefits, it makes dinner more interesting (and usually more delicious) and it helps me use up whatever odds and ends I might have laying around.

A few days ago I happened to have some olives and prosciutto on hand so I decided to do a "tapenade" stuffed chicken breast. I bought the olives for my Mediterranean salad and had almost a whole jar left over, and as I mentioned before, olives aren't something I eat very often so I needed to figure out something to do with them. I looked up some recipes and didn't seem to have all of the ingredients for a traditional tapenade (I was mainly missing capers and anchovy) but I figured I could still do some kind of olive stuffing. I diced up about 15 kalamata olives and mixed them with about a tablespoon of lemon zest, a teaspoon of minced fresh rosemary, a clove of grated garlic, and some pepper. I left out salt because olives are already salty on their own. I could have done this in the food processor, but I didn't feel like getting it dirty for such a small batch so I just mixed everything in a stainless steel bowl.

A mortar and pestle would have come in handy, but unfortunately I don't have one of those (yet). The next step was to stuff the chicken. I rinsed and dried each breast then used a paring knife to cut a slit in the thicker half of the breast. After that I seasoned the inside and outside of the meat with salt and pepper then put half of the filling into each breast.

The next step was to wrap each breast in two slices of prosciutto. This helps to keep the meat together and the filling inside while cooking. Also, what food isn't improved by being wrapped in cured pork products? After everything was put together I added the breasts to a cast iron pan on medium heat (I think I used a little bacon fat for lubrication, you can use whatever's around) and preheated the oven to 350. 

After searing both sides for about 3-5 minutes each I transferred the whole pan to the oven and left it in there for 15-20 minutes. I served my olive stuffed chicken along with green beans. I just steamed them for 10 minutes, drained them, then sauteed the beans in butter with some garlic, salt, and pepper. In my house we like them soft and a little brown around the edges, but you can make them as crunchy or as soft as you like. This is a pretty common side in our house though.

Here's the finished product:

Overall I was happy with this experiment. The prosciutto was crispy and I liked the olive filling. I could really taste the lemon zest, it added an element of freshness I love. I'll probably make this a few more times, until I run out of olives anyway.

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