I’m often asked how I manage to post original recipes so often while working long hours and hitting the gym the majority of the days of the week. Well, what I usually do is work in bursts. I may perfect three or four recipes in one weekend and then take a break. I feel most comfortable when I have at least six or so recipes ready to go in my “blog” folder on my desktop, which sounds like a lot, but is really only three weeks worth. Then when I’m extra busy at work, on vacation, or spending all my kitchen time developing recipes for a contest, I can go a couple weeks without cooking for my blog. I end up rarely posting recipes right away, because I’d rather take my time editing the photos, writing up the recipe, calculating the nutrition info, etc, but the chicken I made tonight was SO good that I had to make an exception!
I stuffed chicken breasts with a creamy mixture of mascarpone and blue cheese, shallots, spinach, and turkey bacon, and then coated the stuffed breasts with pecans. This recipe does take a bit of time to put together, so I pounded out my chicken, made my stuffing, and assembled my pecan coating yesterday. Then everything came together in about 40 minutes tonight, which is the max amount of time I want to spend cooking on a weeknight. I am already looking forward to leftovers tomorrow!
Spinach, Bacon, and Blue Cheese Stuffed Pecan Crusted Chicken Breasts
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2/3 cup chopped shallots (4-5 large shallots)
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 strips turkey bacon, chopped
4 cups baby spinach (4 ounces)
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans, pulsed in the food processor until finely ground
1/2 cup panko
1/4 cup flour
4 large boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
2 eggs, beaten
Heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a medium nonstick pan and sauté shallots for 5 to 7 minutes or until softened; add garlic and sauté 1 additional minute. Remove from heat and place in a medium bowl. Add bacon to the same pan and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes or until browned. Place bacon in the same bowl with the shallots. Add spinach to the pan and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes or until wilted. Add spinach to the bowl and allow ingredients to cool completely to room temperature. Add blue cheese, mascarpone cheese, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to the bowl and mix until well combined.
Meanwhile, place chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound to 1/3-inch thickness using a meat mallet. Place filling evenly lengthwise down each chicken breast, roll up the sides, and secure with toothpicks. Mix ground pecans, panko, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a shallow pan. Put the flour in a shallow dish and lightly dredge both sides of the stuffed chicken in the flour. Place the beaten eggs in another shallow dish and dredge both sides of the flour coated chicken in the egg mixture; place chicken in the pecan mixture and coat well on all sides.
Heat oven to 350˚F. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat in a large nonstick pan and place two chicken breasts in the pan. Use large tongs to rotate the chicken and sear it on all four sides. Place seared chicken breasts seam side up in a large baking pan and repeat with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and two chicken breasts. Bake at 350˚F for 18 to 22 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: 415 calories, 24.4g fat, 2.1g fiber, 35.2g protein per serving
Cost: $1.35 per serving