After making up some spice blends to give as Christmas gifts this year, I had little bits of various herbs and spices leftover. One of the things I had was dried tomato; I had used it in a Tuscan rub.
While making breadcrumbs from my stale bread ends, I remembered the tomato, as well as the little bit of dried parsley I had. I combined the three to make a crust for the chicken breasts I had. The pesto in the fridge, together with some baby bocconcini, were stuffed into the chicken breast, giving the contrast of crispy outside and gooey, cheesy inside when cutting into the chicken. Yummy!!
To make the crust, start by grinding the dried tomato and parsley in a spice grinder:
2 tablespoons dried tomato
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
Grind until you have a fine powder, with some chunky pieces of tomato remaining.
Combine the ground tomato and parsley with:
3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
Set aside until needed.
For the stuffing, combine:
6 baby bocconcini
1 tablespoon Basil Pesto
Using a small, sharp knife make a pocket in each boneless, skinless chicken breast, as shown in the post Herbed Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Warm Peach Chutney.
Carefully stuff 3 of the pesto bocconcini into each pocket, and secure the opening with a toothpick. Reserve any remaining pesto.
Rub the outside of each stuffed chicken breast with the reserved pesto, adding extra if needed. The pesto will help the breadcrumbs stick to the chicken.
Coat the chicken breasts with the breadcrumbs and dried tomato mixture, pressing to help it adhere.
Using sundried tomato oil, in a hot pan, sear both sides of the stuffed and breaded chicken breasts.
Place the chicken into a 375F oven to finish cooking.
When the chicken is done, allow it to rest for 5 minutes before serving it. If some of the bocconcini has oozed out, just scoop it onto the plate...I had minimal leakage. I served the chicken with orzo, spinach and roasted cauliflower and some steamed green beans. You can leave the chicken breast whole, leaving the cheese in the middle as a surprise, or you can cut it in half to show the centre.
- If you buy whole sundried tomatoes that are not in oil, dice them up before grinding them with the parsley and garlic. The dried tomato I bought was already diced.
- If you have fresh herbs such as parsley, basil or oregano use those instead of dried parsley (I was using this up). Finely chop the fresh herbs and add them to the breadcrumbs and ground dried tomato.
- The chicken does not have to be stuffed. Bake it with a slice of bocconcini on top, or omit the cheese completely.
- You can use other cheese for stuffing the chicken, as I did in the post Herbed Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Warm Peach Chutney.
- Next time you make chicken Parmesan, add some dried tomato to the breadcrumbs and cheese.
- The chicken can be stuffed and breaded ahead of time; keep it well wrapped in the fridge, or freeze it for another time.
- Use the tomato breadcrumbs for a casserole or baked pasta topping....
- No pesto, then go with the usual flour, egg, breadcrumb breading system.