Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spinach & Artichoke Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Everyone likes that Spinach & Artichoke dip, don't they?
Why not put that in chicken?  Oh yeah...

I'm giving you a simple version of spinach artichoke dip for stuffing in this chicken.
But if I had some already made (let's say that big tub they sell at Costco, or something) then I would certainly use that.  I only did 2 chicken breasts, so I had leftover filling which I promptly mixed with some leftover rice pilaf for a nice side dish.

I used my new cast iron fry pan, which I love, love, love!!!  I totally recommend you get one- try Target and not some fancy schmancy cookware store.  I paid $14.99 for my 10" skillet and I laughed all the way to the checkout since I almost bought one for twice that somewhere else!
The pan is pre-seasoned and very non-stick, which surprised me.  You just scrub it out (without soap- - -no soap), dry it off and spray it with a little oil.  That way it's ready to go when you need it next time.  I've been keeping it on top of my stove, at the ready any time.  I love it.  My poor All Clad fry pan may never see the light of day again.

(bread crumbs not shown)
Serves 4

Olive oil, for cooking
4 chicken breasts, butterflied (see below)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can artichoke hearts, chopped
1/3 cup bread crumbs
2-3 cups spinach, chopped
4 oz cream cheese (about 1/2 pkg)
1/2 cup feta, or Parmesan

Freshly ground pepper

1 bunch green onions, sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup white wine
2 Tbsp butter, cold

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Butterfly your chicken breasts.  To butterfly just means to partially cut them in half, horizontally, without going all the way through.  It's not hard to do, just try to get equal thicknesses on both sides of the chicken so that it cooks evenly.

I almost always use fresh spinach, chopped and steamed in the microwave instead of frozen chopped spinach.  If you have that, go ahead and use about a half box of thawed, frozen spinach. I don't like it because it's never thawed when I'm ready for it and I seem to get that stuff everywhere! I chopped up about 2-3 cups of packed fresh, baby spinach, put it in a bowl covered with plastic and microwaved for about 3 minutes. When it cools you can squeeze it dry if it has lots of liquid in in.  In the same bowl, I added the chopped artichokes, the garlic, the cream cheese and the feta and mixed to combine.

I added about 1/3 cup of filling to each chicken breast, at the fold area, and covered it up with the top layer. Carefully lay each piece in an ovenproof fry pan and brown each side of the chicken.  Be very careful when you flip it that the filling doesn't ooze out. 

When the chicken has a little brown color, pop the whole pan in the oven to finish cooking.  It should take about 20 minutes in the oven.  You don't want undercooked chicken, but overcooking it isn't nice either. I always poke it with my finger to test, it should be firm, but not hard. If it's hard, it's probably overcooked...
Remove the chicken breasts to your plates and make a quick sauce in the pan.

Here is was my pan l used to make my sauce.  Yeah, it doesn't look so good but it made a good sauce.

Add the wine and using a spatula scrape up the browned bits, and even any leftover filling.  Keep the wine handy in case you need more.  Add the tomatoes and the chopped green onions and saute until the tomatoes start to burst.  Add the cold butter and stir.  Pour over the chicken and serve!

I used about a cup of wine because my pan was a little hot and it started to cook down too quick.  So I added more!  Also, I might use halved cherry tomatoes instead next time, as these little units were super hot when we sat down to dinner, I don't recommend popping them whole into your mouth right away!!!

One more note about the wine, some astute wine drinkers may notice that I am using cheap $2 buck "Chuck" from Trader Joe's.  I know that they say to only use wine you would drink, but c'mon, if I have a nice $30 bottle of wine, I am NOT putting it my sauce. Just not gonna do it.  I use the Sauvignon Blanc from Trader Joe's, I find it reduces nicely unlike a oakey chardonnay.

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