Versatile chicken breasts are a common choice for a weeknight dinner when you haven't a minute to spare.
With a little bit of extra effort, though, chicken breasts needn't be common at all. In fact, when stuffed with savory spinach, mushrooms and roasted red bell pepper -- and with each slice displaying the colorful filling -- they can be impressive enough to serve on the good china at a weekend dinner party.
To speed up the preparation, the chicken breasts can be filled the day before, covered and refrigerated. Then you need only to brown and roast them.
- 1 pound spinach, stemmed and rinsed
- 4 tablespoons canola oil
- 1/2 pound mushrooms, any variety, sliced
- 1 medium roasted red bell pepper, peeled, seeded and diced
- 1 tablespoon goat cheese
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, tenderloins removed (about 6 ounces each), butterflied* and pressed thin
Have ready 18 pieces of kitchen twine, each about 12 inches.
Place the spinach in a large pot over medium heat. Cook, covered, until the spinach has wilted, 1 to 2 minutes, then drain in a colander. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out any excess moisture and transfer the spinach to a medium bowl.
In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until they are golden, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mushrooms to the bowl of spinach. Add the roasted, diced red bell pepper, goat cheese and salt and pepper to taste and mix until well combined.
Place a portion of the spinach-mushroom mixture atop each butterflied chicken breast; don't overstuff. Working with one piece of chicken at a time, roll the chicken, jellyroll style, to enclose the filling, tucking the ends under. Slip a piece of twine under the middle of the chicken, bring the ends over the top and tie snugly. Tie 1 more piece of twine near each end of the chicken. Trim any excess twine.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
In a large cast-iron skillet or heavy pan over medium-high heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Cook the chicken until it is golden brown on all sides, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and roast for about 8 minutes.
Let sit for about 10 minutes. Discard the twine and cut each roulade into 1-inch slices. If serving with risotto, spoon some onto individual plates and fan the chicken slices over the top. Serve hot.
Adapted from "Carlos," by Debbie and Carlos Nieto (Gibbs Smith, 2005).
Tested by Marcia Kramer.
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