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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Blue Cheese, Pecan, and Cranberry-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

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 I'm going to pat myself on the back for this meal. Not because it was fancy looking (though it was). Not because it was delicious (though it was). And not because Ryan loved it (though he did). The back pat is because I pounded, stuffed, wrapped, and tied the chicken breasts all by myself.
Truth is, I'm not a huge fan of dealing with raw meat. More often than not if dinner involves the handling of raw meat, I recruit Ryan to take care of those steps. Here's the moment where you start throwing sticks and stones and accusing me of not being a "real" food blogger. But wait! I'm getting better...as evidenced by this meal!
Yes, raw meat grosses me out a little bit, but this is something I can easily get over when the end result is as good as this was. This meal is fancy enough to serve to company, but also easy enough to put together on a weeknight. I prepped the chicken the night before and then browned and baked it the next evening after work while I made the pan sauce. If blue cheese isn't your thing (I know there are a lot of haters out there), sub goat or feta cheese. I found the combination perfect, however, and loved the crunch from the pecans paired with the sweetness from the cranberries. 

One Year Ago: Chocolate, Marshmallow, Butterscotch Bars
Two Years Ago: Cake Batter Blondies
Three Years Ago: Turkey Burgers with Goat Cheese

Blue Cheese, Pecan, and Cranberry-Stuffed Chicken Breasts
from the Chicago Tribune

-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded 1/4-inch thick
-1/2 tsp salt
-freshly ground pepper
-4 ounces blue cheese
-1/4 cup dried cranberries
-1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
-1 tbsp olive oil
-3 shallots, chopped
-3 cloves garlic, sliced
-1/2 cup white wine (if no white wine, sub chicken broth)
-1/2 cup chicken broth
-1 tbsp Dijon mustard
-2 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
-1/4 cup chopped parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
2. Mix the blue cheese in a small bowl with the cranberries and pecans. Lay a chicken breast on the cutting board with the top side (where the skin was) down. Place 1/4 of the blue cheese mixture in the center of the chicken breast. Wrap the chicken breast tightly around the cheese mixture and tie up with kitchen string. Repeat with remaining chicken.
3. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add the chicken. Brown on both sides. Transfer chicken to a baking pan and place in the oven. Bake for 15-25 minutes, or until cooked through (mine took closer to 25--use a meat thermometer to test doneness).
4. Meanwhile, make a pan sauce. Add the shallots and garlic to the skillet with more olive oil, if needed. Cook over medium-high heat until soft. Add wine and reduce to a syrup. Add chicken broth and mustard. Whisk in the butter, a piece at a time, to thick sauce. Remove from heat and stir in parsley.
5. Cut the string from around the chicken and slice the chicken. Serve sliced with the sauce.