We just got back from our annual lab ski trip, where stayed in a huge house up in New Hampshire and hit the slopes and snowshoeing trails at Mount Sunapee. We all had a great time relaxing, hanging out, and enjoying some incredible meals. Everyone signed up to make a dish over the course of two days and I volunteered to organize our shopping list and go to the grocery store with my labmate Libby. It was quite the adventure navigating an unfamiliar store with a two page list and two full shopping carts, but definitely worth it because everything was so tasty! The first night we had pizzas with crusts made from scratch and the second night I decided to tackle the main course.
I was actually a bit nervous when I first got into the kitchen because I’ve never cooked for 10 people before and certainly didn’t want to disappoint anyone or mess anything up! But, I quickly settled into my groove once I started prepping all the ingredients. I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of multitasking in the kitchen and my goal was to finish all the dishes at the same time so nothing would get cold. Luckily, everything came together perfectly, and at one point I had all four burners going, which was a first for me (stirring risotto, cooking asparagus, searing chicken breasts, and keeping my eye on the simmering soup)! My menu included crab bisque (which I will post about next!), gruyere risotto with asparagus and peas, and these lovely stuffed chicken breasts.
I decided on chicken as the protein because everyone likes it and I knew it would be easy to find high quality chicken at the small local grocery store. There was no great inspiration for the filling – I just combined all my favorite ingredients! I mixed together caramelized shallots, garlic, pancetta, sun-dried tomatoes, and parmesan cheese, and then stirred in just enough mascarpone cheese to hold it all together. I think everyone enjoyed the meal and I’m already thinking about menu possibilities for next year!
Pancetta and Sun-Dried Tomato Stuffed Chicken Breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2/3 cup chopped shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup diced pancetta
2/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
1/4 cup almond meal
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium low heat and sauté shallots for 10 to 15 minutes or until caramelized. Add garlic and sauté 1 additional minute. Remove from heat and place in a medium bowl. Add pancetta to the same pan and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes or until browned. Place pancetta in the same bowl with the caramelized shallots and allow ingredients to cool completely to room temperature. Add sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan cheese, and mascarpone cheese to the bowl and mix until well combined.
Meanwhile, place chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet. Place filling evenly lengthwise down each chicken breast, roll up the sides, and secure with toothpicks. Mix almond meal, flour, and salt in a shallow baking dish and evenly coat stuffed chicken with the flour mixture.
Heat oven to 350˚F. Heat butter and 1 remaining tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat and place chicken breasts seam side down in the pan. Use large tongs to rotate the chicken and sear it on all four sides. Place seared chicken breasts seam side down in a large baking pan and bake at 350˚F for 20 to 25 minutes or until cooked through and no longer pink in the center. Allow to rest 5 minutes, then remove toothpicks, and cut on a bias. Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition: 318 calories, 17.1g fat, 1.0g fiber, 32.6g protein per serving
Cost: $1.56 per serving