There was a piece of gouda sitting in the fridge; I bought it with something specific in mind, but for the life of me cannot remember what that was. I did not want to leave it there while I tried to remember...who knows how long that would be?!
I used it, together with some fresh baby spinach to stuff chicken breasts, and served them on top of soft polenta, and sauteed broccolini. Yum!
The spinach and cheese helped to keep the chicken nice and moist, with the cheese adding saltiness and a creamy, gooey texture to the meal.
Make a pocket in each chicken breast by using a sharp knife to cut in from the 'straight', or breastbone side of the breast.
You will effectively be cutting the chicken breast in half horizontally, without cutting right through.
Open the pocket and season lightly with salt and black pepper.
Cut 6 pieces of gouda, and place one in each pocket, as shown.
Gently pack a small handful of washed baby spinach leaves into each pocket. Tuck them into the pocket as firmly as you can, without bruising them.
Top the spinach leaves with another 2 slices of gouda.
Tuck everything into the pocket, and close it over the filling. Use toothpicks to keep the edges of the chicken together.
Lightly season both sides of the stuffed chicken breasts with salt and pepper.
Rub a drizzle of olive oil onto the chicken.
Sear the chicken on both sides in a hot pan; I used a grill pan.
Put the pan of chicken into the oven, at a temperature of 375F to finish cooking.
Remove from the oven and leave the chicken to rest for 5 - 10 minutes.
While the chicken is resting, blanch and then saute the broccolini in olive oil. I also added some diced red peppers for colour. To serve, place the soft polenta onto the plates, top with the broccolini and then cut each stuffed chicken breast in half, revealing the filling. Place the chicken on top of the broccolini.
- Thick cut boneless pork chops will be another option for stuffing this way; you can also try pork loin chops, lamb chops or turkey breasts fillets.
- Instead of spinach leaves you can use beet greens, swiss chard or arugula. If you use greens such as kale or collard greens, keep in mind that they are tougher greens and would benefit from being cooked before using for the stuffing.
- Fresh herbs can also be used, but you would be using only a few leaves, as the flavour in leafy herbs such as basil, sage or tarragon is much stronger than that of spinach. Consider using a combination of spinach and a couple of herb leaves for the flavour.
- Cheese is a personal choice; try and use something that will melt and give that gooey, meltiness that is what makes this chicken so good. Cheeses such as Swiss, mozzarella or provolone, brie or goat cheese are some to try.
- Smoked cheeses such as gouda, gruyere, mozzarella or cheddar will add some smokiness to the stuffing if you have one of them available.
- The chicken can be stuffed ahead of time; keep it wrapped and refrigerated until it is time to cook it. The stuffed chicken can also be frozen; defrost before cooking.
- Consider adding other stuffing ingredients such as roasted red pepper, cooked mushrooms, roasted garlic, caramelized onions, thinly sliced apple or pear, dried fruit.
- For added crunch, bread the stuffed chicken by dipping it into flour, then egg wash and finally seasoned breadcrumbs. Make sure you chill the chicken for at least an hour once it has been breaded, and then proceed with cooking. The chicken can be browned in a pan and then baked, or it can just be baked.