Sunday, January 19, 2014

Feta & Spinach Stuffed Chicken

I'm a total sucker for stuffed stuffs. Stuffed chicken, stuffed fish, stuffed peppers, you name it. Last week I tried my hand at a feta and spinach stuffed chicken breast and I'm pretty sure it's going on the list of Top 10 Stuffed Chicken Recipes. It's basically spanakopita in chicken form and therefore insanely perfect. It's probably perfect because it's yet another gem from who I love and you should go check out immediately.

I kind of cooked my chicken a little while I was defrosting in the microwave. Move along, please.
The ingredients are very traditional to a spanakopita. In fact the only thing different here is that we're rolling it up in a piece of chicken rather than throwing some phyllo down on top and calling it a day. Spinach, dill, parsley, scallions, onion, garlic, feta and ricotta all shine in their own specially little way in this dish.

It smelled amazing in my kitchen while the onions, garlic and greens all married together and did their thing. I probably ate half of this while I was stirring it around being impatient for the actual meal yet to come.

Adding cheese to anything makes it automatically better.
It didn't look like a ton of filling at first but I actually had quite a bit leftover. Probably because I didn't start with the same amount of chicken as the original recipe called for. Minor details.

THE FUNNEST PART OF ALL is always getting to pound out some chicken. What better way to work out some of the frustrations that even the yummiest of wines can't seem to dissipate at the end of a long day of whines. The original recipe calls for thinly sliced chicken breasts that you can buy pre-packaged. And that's totally cool! I usually just buy boneless, skinless breasts in bulk and freeze them so I get to butterfly them and SMASH THEM ALL UP when it's time to cook. You can either put them in a zip-top bag or under some plastic wrap and pound away with a mallet or a heavy frying pan that you're comfortable throwing around until they're about a half-inch thick. Go ahead, get your Rapunzel on.

I'll be honest I really haven't figured out the secret to the stuffing of the chicken. This time I spread it about 3/4 of the way up the bird hoping that I would be able to easily secure it and it would stay together. It kind of worked.

After rolling up and securing with a toothpick or two (don't forget where you put them or how many you used. Otherwise YOU get the rollup with the needle in the haystack. Have fun!), dip the whole thing in an eggwash and roll around again in seasoned breadcrumbs. I like that this recipe didn't call for flour and yet the breading still worked. I didn't have seasoned breadcrumbs so I threw whatever spices I felt like would normally be in the pre-mixed stuff into a cup of plain crumbs. I think I used garlic powder, onion powder, parsley, salt, pepper, and paprika. But you do you. Lay the chicken seam side down on a non-stick pan of some variety (I used my stoneware pan but you could line a cookie sheet with parchment and it would work fine) and bake!

Nothing is more terrifying yet satisfying than cutting open a piece of stuffed stuff and seeing if it's cooked all the way through. This is something you're going to have to experiment with in YOUR oven because everyone is different. I cut mine open and saw it needed another 7 minutes, give or take. Usually the piece I cut up every which way checking for doneness goes to Maddie because she's just going to pick out every piece of cheese she can find and shove the rest to the side anyway so who cares. I suppose the smart thing to do would be to use a meat thermometer and make sure it's at least 165 degrees before consuming. Do that when you make yours. Be smarter than me.

What variations of stuffed stuff do you like? Do you stick to chicken or do have you branched out to fish, steaks and beyond?

Feta & Spinach Stuffed Chicken

  • cooking spray (I use Organic Pam)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and juice squeezed out
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup (2.5 oz) crumbled Feta cheese
  • 1/3 cup ricotta cheese
  • pepper and kosher salt, to taste
  • 8 thin skinless chicken breast cutlets (1.5 lbs total)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Heat olive oil in a pan and cook the onions until they're clear, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, being careful not to burn it, and cook until fragrant, about a minute.
  4. Add spinach, dill, parsley, scallions, salt and pepper and saute until cooked through, about another minute or so.
  5. Remove from heat and add mixture to a bowl with the feta and ricotta.
  6. Rinse and pat dry your chicken breasts, seasoning with salt and pepper. Add about two tablespoons of the mixture to the chicken and roll, securing with toothpicks.
  7. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, water, and a dash of salt.
  8. Roll the chicken breasts in the egg mixture, and next in the breadcrumbs.
  9. Place the chicken breasts seam side down on a non-stick pan.
  10. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until cooked through. Internal temperature should be 165.

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