Remember when you were a kid, and you were called a “chicken” for being scared? How weird is that . . . why would someone compare a quaking, trembling third grader to a scrawny-necked, feathered bird? And why is the first joke “Why did the chicken cross the road?” How did Chicken Pox get its name? What is our obsession with chicken?????
Well . . . I can’t answer for all of those examples, but I think that, after you taste this stuffed chicken breast . . . you may have a slight obsession with chicken, too. This dish is the result of an experiment I did, one day, trying to come up with something new for supper that was fairly straightforward and easy. This recipe is great because you can change it up, based on what you have on hand, and what tastes you like best. So I’ll show you how I did it, and you can feel free to experiment away. I’m sure that, no matter what extras you choose, it will be a scrumptious change up from the normal menu. Did I mention it is also deliciously gluten free?
What are we waiting for? Let’s do this!
Stuffed Chicken Breast with Caramelized Onions and Bleu Cheese
(original– use it and change it, but please credit back so no one steals my work 🙂
2 boneless chicken breasts
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 tbsp. butter, divided
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cooking sherry
3/4 cup sliced white mushrooms
2 tbsp. bleu cheese
4 deli-sliced pieces of Swiss cheese
1/2 cup raw spinach leaves
Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper to taste and grill in a cast iron grill pan, using the tbsp. of olive oil to coat the ribs of the pan (you may sear in a regular frying pan, too, but it won’t have the cool grill marks). Sear the chicken until it has nice grill marks, but don’t cook it all the way through. In a separate pan, melt 2 tbsp. butter and add the thinly sliced onion and salt. Caramelize the onions, deglazing the pan with the sherry when the onions are almost done (more on this, later). Remove the onions and melt the other 2 tbsp. butter, adding the sliced mushrooms and sautéing them until they are golden brown. Remove mushrooms from the heat. Slice the chicken breasts, horizontally, without slicing all the way through (it should look kind of like a hot dog bun). Open each chicken breast and layer 2 slices of Swiss cheese, a layer of spinach leaves, a layer of the caramelized onions and sautéed mushrooms, and 1 tbsp. of bleu cheese, apiece. Secure the filling with several toothpicks. Bake the chicken breasts at 425 for 15-17 minutes until chicken is done and cheese is melted.
Now, in pictures! 🙂
To start with, let’s get our little chickies a nice day at the warm spa. A very warm spa. (Evil chuckle– Hehe. 😉 Basically, if you have a cast iron grill pan, that is just perfect. If you don’t have a grill pan, a regular frying pan is fine. I think a George Foreman grill would work great, too. If you have anything that leaves the grill marks on there, go for that, but it will taste awesome either way. 🙂
Sprinkle your chicken with the seasoning of your choice. Salt and pepper is fine, but I also added garlic powder and onion powder. Just lightly coat the chicken all over, and then place it into a hot skillet lined with the olive oil. The oil adds a little crispness to the chicken and keeps it from sticking. Sear your chicken on each side. It won’t be cooked all the way through, but it will be nicely seared and crispy on the outside. Grill both sides and then remove the chicken from the heat and set aside.
While the chicken is cooking, let’s start caramelizing some gorgeous golden onions, baby! Caramelized onions are some of the most drool-worthy additions I can think of. They are perfectly comfortable accompanying a juicy hamburger or sizzling steak. Honestly? They are also amazing just eaten plain (not that I have ever done this, of course . . . cough, cough). There is a little learning curve to getting them just right without burning, but once you nail this technique . . . you’ll love the results. Melt your butter in a medium skillet or Dutch Oven– cast iron pans and skillets work like a dream for this type of cooking, so break them out if you have one. You want to keep your heat medium low in cast iron, or medium in a regular pan– not so low that nothing happens, but not so high that your onions burn. Stir the onions and salt into the butter and allow the onions to start cooking.
You want to stir the onions every so often, but not constantly. See that brown, almost burned looking stuff at the bottom of the pan? That’s actually not burnt material . . . it’s the caramelizing sugars of the onion. You want to see this on your pan and occasionally stir so that the onions get a nice tan from those spots. Mmmm. See? It doesn’t smell burned, does it? Exactly. No burning here. Well, no burning, that is, unless you’re a hunk ‘a burnin’ love . . . for these gorgeous onions. Keep going– these onions are getting there, but we want them to be a deep, maple-syrup color, and be almost oozing.
There we go. These onions are just right. When they reach this point, stir more often, because they are starting to run out of liquid and will stick more easily. Go ahead and add your cooking sherry (or chicken broth, if you prefer) and deglaze the pan. This just means to use the steam that the liquid creates, when it’s added to the hot pan, to scrape all those brown parts from the bottom. Deglazing pulls tons of flavor back into the onions. YUMMMMMOOOOO. Remove the onions from the heat and set them aside in a separate bowl. Your call is important to us . . . we will be with you in a moment, you gorgeous onions, you.
Melt the other 2 tbsp. butter in a skillet and add your sliced mushrooms. The mushrooms won’t take as long as your onions did, because they just need to get nice and golden brown. Come on . . . give these pasty little guys a nice, Florida quality tan.
This is what the sweet little mushrooms will look like after their FL vacation– golden brown with a kiss of color. YUM. Pull them off the heat, too, and place them in another bowl. It will be showtime very shortly.
Go ahead and grab the little chickies. Using a serrated knife, cut the chicken breasts in half, horizontally, but don’t go all the way through. It should kind of look like a hot dog bun made out of chicken. 🙂 Open the “bun,” and start some gorgeous layering. This is where you can also swap out the ingredients I used for whatever you have on hand, or whatever you like best. I filled each chicken breast with 2 slices of Swiss cheese (fold the cheese in half so that it will go back against the chicken without hanging out too much), a layer of raw spinach leaves, a layer of caramelized onions, a layer of sautéed mushrooms, and then a sprinkle of bleu cheese. I put a few fresh basil leaves on mine, as well, because I had them . . . yummo. At this point, your chicken is looking like Uncle Milton after Thanksgiving– WAYYYY too full. That’s OK. Gently press the filling into the chicken with your fingers, using your thumbs to hold the top in place and press it down, as you stuff. Come on. Pretend you’re packing for a week’s vacation, and you refuse to pay $50 to take another suitcase on the airplane. I know you can get all that in there. I believe in you.
When you get the filling as stuffed into that “chicken hot dog bun” as you can, use a few toothpicks to hold everything together. Just stick the toothpicks down through the chicken, filling, and second layer of chicken. Keep the toothpick out toward the edge so that it almost acts as a grate to hold in the good stuff. I had to use about 3 toothpicks per chicken breast. It’s OK to bake the chicken with the toothpicks in it– just make sure to remove them before serving this meal, or you may get a few nasty comments from the diners 😉 Bake the chicken, stuffed, at 425 for 15-17 minutes, until the chicken is completely cooked and the cheese is nice and melty and ooey gooey.
Oh my goodness. I can now see why we are obsessed with chicken. Look at all that melty, cheese goodness and caramelized loveliness. Sigh. Which came first . . . the chicken or the egg?
Who cares. As long as it ends up in a delicious, easy supper.
Because you did it. And I’m just so proud of you.
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