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The Misadventures of Mrs. B: Stuffed Chicken and Pink Pasta

Cook. Writer. Wife. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Klutz.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Stuffed Chicken and Pink Pasta

I knew that being cooped up on Wednesday would be the perfect opportunity to make something delicious.

I just love when it snows.  It gives me an excuse to be decadent in the name of comfort food.

Wednesday night's dinner was stuffed chicken and pink pasta.


Just thinking about it makes me drool.

Both of these recipes are ones that I worked out on my own.  I've been making a version of this chicken for years now, and it's become one of my dad's favorite dishes.  When I make it for him I stuff the chicken with tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, and olives.

Rob doesn't like any of those things, though.  So for him I stick to cheese.  I'm not complaining.

Still, I knew I should *try* to be good with the cheese because I was making a pink sauce (read: creamy) for the accompanying pasta.  So I stuck with lower-fat versions where I could.

Shall we begin?

I started off with a cup of fat-free ricotta cheese.  Try not to cringe too much.


Then I grated up a half cup of part-skim mozzarella.  Isn't it just the cutest? So curly and fluffy!



Then I ate a handful of the mozzarella and had to grate some more.

Then I added a quarter cup of grated parmesan.  Yes, it's the stuff in the can.  Grouse if you must.



Believe me, I'm usually a cheese purist.  But when we went to the store there was an honest-to-God blizzard starting to bear down on us and there wasn't much time to be choosy.

To this I added a tablespoon of (from the jar) minced garlic.  Grouse, grouse, grouse.  I get it.  I then added a healthy palmful of dried basil and a generous amount of salt and pepper.



All of this got mixed together, and I left it in the fridge in order for the flavors to marry.

After about an hour of letting the flavors get all married an mixed up and whatnot, I took my three chicken breasts and made pockets in them.  I couldn't get pictures of this part because, well, my fingers were in a chicken breast.  But I'll explain as best I can: Rinse and trim excess fat off of a boneless, skinless chicken breast.  Then insert a knife into the thickest part of the breast at the top.  Work the knife as far down as you can without coming out the bottom, then work the knife to the left and right.  Again, be careful not to tear through the breast if at all possible.  Remove the knife and work your fingers in there as well to be sure that you have as big a pocket as possible.  And try to be careful not to cut yourself during the process!

Once the pockets were formed, I crammed as much cheese mixture in there as I possibly could.  I got a lot in, too!


I beat together two eggs.



And mixed about two cups of breadcrumbs together with all sorts of dried herbs and spices - parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, onion and garlic powder, and salt and pepper.  Use whatever you like!



Then I dredged the chicken breasts through the breadcrumbs to get a first layer, then quickly through the eggs, then again through the breadcrumbs.  I like a thick crust so I made sure I patted the crumbs on very firmly.



While I was doing this, a pan with about an inch of vegetable oil was heating on the stove.  I was also preheating my oven to 300 degrees.

When the oil was shimmery, I very carefully placed the chicken in the pan.

Leave them there for a few minutes without turning or moving them in any way so as to ensure that the breadcrumbs are forming a nice crust.


Caaaarefully turn them - don't want to knock those lovely breadcrumbs off! And again, let them sizzle and brown for a few minutes.  All we're trying to do here is get a golden crust.


Once you're satisfied with the depth of color, remove the chicken and place on paper towels, patting gently to soak up any excess grease. 


Then place them in a baking pan and allow them to finish cooking in your preheated oven for about 20 minutes - just long enough to cook your pasta and make a sauce!

This is a very, very simple sauce.  I tend to go for very fresh sauces with relatively few ingredients.

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil on medium high heat.



Ad a tablespoon of minced garlic and cook for about a minute until it is fragrant.


Pour in one 14.5 ounce can of fire roasted diced tomatoes and allow to simmer and thicken.


Add a generous palmful of dried basil (though if I had my druthers I'd much rather have used fresh!), a teaspoon of onion powder and a sprinkle of sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes.


Let me explain: I had no onions on hand.  Normally I would use minced onion but I had to improvise.  Again, blizzard.

Allow to thicken up, and then stir in a cup of light cream or half-and-half.  Typically I like using fat-free half-and-half but I didn't have any on hand, so I used light cream.


Then I added a handful of chopped parsley for color and flavor, and salt to taste.


And that was it! Doesn't get much simpler than that.

When all was said and done, I had this...

 

It was far too much for me to handle - my eyes were bigger than my stomach! But it was delicious.  The sauce was a little sweet, but I love it that way.  Rob wasn't as big a fan as I was but then Rob doesn't typically enjoy fresh tomatoes in sauces the way I do.  Either way I'll cut back on the sugar if ever I make it again.
Still, give it a shot in your own kitchen, and have fun experimenting with all the different stuffings you could use for your chicken.  Sauteed mushrooms? Sun dried tomatoes? Spinach? All of the above, perhaps?

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2 Comments:

Blogger Startup Wife said...

YUM! Your food always looks SO good.

February 13, 2010 at 2:51 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second that...your food does look GOOD! You inspire me...one day, I'm gonna try all of these recipes!

February 13, 2010 at 3:29 PM

 

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