Last night I decided I felt like a lighter meal since my stomach has kind of been off lately. I have a few favorite lighter meals, like the shrimp baguettes I posted a few days ago, but I wanted something delicious and chicken-y. I decided on a super simple but super delicious recipe. This is a great summer dinner!
Goat Cheese, Basil & Roasted Red Pepper Stuffed Chicken Breasts!
4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
2-3 red bell peppers (depending on size)
16 fresh basil leaves
4 fresh sprigs of thyme
2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 T. oregano, dried
1 T. garlic powder
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 4 oz. package herbed goat cheese
This is important – you could always take plain goat cheese and add the italian herbs to it, but its MUCH easier to just buy it like this:
Salt & Pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Fillet each chicken breast into heart shapes. This is a little tricky to explain. Basically, place the chicken breast with the flattest side facing up. Place your hand on top of the breast so that you’re holding it in place, and angle your knife parallel to your hand but halfway through the breast. Don’t cut all the way through the chicken… the purpose is basically to make a “wrapper” for the goat cheese and peppers. Here’s some photos from The Lake Kitchen:
Once you flip open that other side (careful not to cut through) you should have something looking like a heart-shaped chicken breast. Season all sides of the chicken with salt, pepper, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over high. Once the oil starts to “ripple” and smoke a little, its hot enough. We’re not actually cooking the chicken here – this is just to create a sear on the outside to help the juices stay in while it bakes in the oven. Place the side of the chicken that will be on the outside (the side laying face-down on your cutting board after filleting) in the pan and let sear about 1-2 minutes. Remove to cutting board and let cool.
Chop up your bell peppers while the chicken is cooling. Reheat that oil if it cooled off and toss them in it for a few seconds, just until their sweet smell starts to waft toward you. Drain on a paper towel and let cool, then place on a baking sheet in the oven to broil for about 8 minutes, or until the tips are blackened
Once everything is cool, spread 1/4 of the goat cheese on only one of the inside portions of each chicken breast. Top this with 4 of the basil leaves, 1/4 of the red pepper strips and then sprinkle with thyme. Close up the chicken breasts, using the toothpicks to help keep them closed.
You can just place this chicken on the same baking sheet that you broiled the bell peppers on. Sprinkle with the fresh thyme (which can easily be removed from the stalks by pinching to hold at the top and running your fingers down the sides… the leaves will “flake” off). Bake them at 350˚F for 8-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken. The ones I made above only took 10, but they were on the thinner side.
Again, remember the trick for checking if chicken is done – lightly press your thumb and pinky together and feel the muscle at the base of your thumb. This is what finished chicken should feel like. We don’t want any hockey pucks here!
Place the stuffed chicken breasts on a plate and cover with aluminum foil to allow to rest around 5 minutes. Bon appetit!
Not to sound repetitive, but this meal goes really well with my favorite white wine of all time – the Cheverny Delaille from France’s Loire valley, around $15/bottle. Since I’ve already suggested that one, though, I’ll go ahead and say a good backup would be something that can stand up to the sweetness of the peppers while not overpowering the freshness of the goat cheese. This Chardonnay from California’s Russian River Valley is a little more expensive, but worth it!
The wine runs around $32, but is a really good Chardonnay. It has a nose of roasted almonds, pineapple, vanilla and buttery caramel, and on sipping has a semi-sweet attack with a toasty finish. Parfait!
Until next time,