Spinach & Feta Stuffed Chicken Breasts
|May 27, 2011||Posted by Cheeks under Grilling, Main Course, MEAT|
Oh, my lovelies, you want to seriously impress someone? Make this.
Oh, and you don’t want something that will take ages, 300 pans, and lots of frustration? Make this.
I impressed myself with this one, people. Yeah, I know, I’m so awesome and blah blah blah. The truth is, a lot of times the things I make I am disappointed with. Sure, they taste good. But, invariably, while I’m eating something I think, Oh I should have done this, or I should have added that, or it would be so much better like this…and once my mind goes in that direction, it’s all over. Thankfully, this is not one of those recipes.
On the one hand, this isn’t necessarily a bad quality for an amateur cook to have. My biggest problem, I think, is creativity – in that, I’m really not that creative. I can usually go through a bare cupboard and find something interesting to make for dinner, but in doing so I seem to rely on old standards, variations on them, and simple fare. Now, I like simple, but when it becomes routine it gets boring.
Changing up little things can make such a difference, too, and make a once-boring standard seem like a fresh new dish. Take, for instance, this take-out salad I absolutely love. There is nothing to interesting about it on the surface – roughly torn romaine topped with big pieces of myriad vegetables. Probably something the cooks can whip up in 2 minutes in the kitchen before sending it off with the delivery driver – just like so many of my weekday dinners seem to be, the quickest thing I can put together and get onto a plate.
When the salad gets to my house, I like to disassemble it and start chopping. The lettuce is shredded and tossed with a little vinaigrette, then plated. Then I dice all the vegetables, add some strong cheese crumbles/shavings (feta, reggiano parm, or even sharp white cheddar) and toss this mixture with a little more vinaigrette, salt & pepper before plating atop the lettuce. The once boring garden salad becomes an interesting chopped primavera salad – with only a slight bit more investment on my part.
Like these chicken breasts. Our summer-like temperatures have addicted me to my grill, and along with it any food that can be thrown upon it. I was going to season and grill the breasts – something I do all the time – but stopped short and thought, what can I do to make this more interesting? It wasn’t long until I thought of stuff….literally – stuffing!
So instead of a boring chicken breast, I cut a pocket inside each one and filled it with a combination of spinach, feta, low-fat mozzerella, greek yogurt, nutmeg, and a little lemon. I brushed each one with more lemon juice, and S&P. Grilled over a combination of direct and indirect heat (to make sure the thick breasts cooked through without getting dry or overcooked), they came off the flame looking like beautiful bronzed goddesses. A simple asparagus-parmesan salad was all that was needed to pull this impressive-looking meal togtether.
See what great things can happen when you think a little about food? My lesson learned is to challenge myself NOT to do what I’m comfortable with. Sure, I’m going to meet a lot of disappointment along the way, but more often I’ll come away with a delicious new recipe in the repertoire and the satisfaction of mastering something new.
Spinach & Feta Stuffed Chicken Breasts
I used low-fat cheeses, cause of this diet thang, but regular would be even better.
- 2 large bone-in chicken breasts, skin removed
- 1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of liquid (you’ll have about 1/2 cup dry)
- 3 Tbsp feta cheese, crumbled
- 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 3 Tbsp greek yogurt
- 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
Heat a grill to medium heat. In a small bowl, mix squeezed spinach with feta, mozzarella, yogurt, nutmeg, and a small squeeze of lemon juice. Add salt & plenty of black pepper & mix well. Set aside.
Make a pocket in each chicken breast: Using a small, sharp knife, insert knife blade in the side (parallel to the rib bones) of the thickest part of the breast. Sweep or rotate the knife downward to make a pocket in the breast, taking care not to cut through the sides at all. Remove knife, insert with blade facing opposite direction, and repeat to extend pocket into top half of breast. You should have about a 1 1/2″ opening. Use your fingers to gently stretch the pocket open.
Gently stuff half of spinach mixture into each chicken breast, gently, and trying not to giggle at the semi-porny sounds it makes. You can try to use a spoon, but your fingers work best to stuff the mixture into each cavity. Be sure to distribute the spinach mixture fully into the crevices of each pocket.
Squeeze remaining lemon juice over chicken, and season with salt and pepper.
Grill breasts over medium flame about 25-30 minutes or until cooked through (165 on an instant-read thermometer, although the filling/air pockets might prevent you from getting a good reading). Start over direct heat, and if breasts get too browned on the outside move to upper rack or indirect heat.