Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Zucchini, Asiago, and Tarragon Stuffed Chicken Breasts

    I discovered this recipe for stuffed chicken breasts years ago in a cookbook called Italian Family Cooking ... Like Mama Used To Make by Anne Casale.  The combination of Asiago cheese and tarragon give the stuffing a little different flavor .... one that I love!  This makes a very nice dish when company's coming, but I've also put this on the table for just the family.  After all, they deserve something special once in awhile, right? 

Zucchini, Asiago, and Tarragon Stuffed Chicken Breasts
                                                           (slightly adapted from original recipe)

6 split chicken breasts, w/pocket cut into the thickest part
2 medium zucchini (12 ounces), coarsely grated and squeezed as dry as possible
2 tblsp. olive oil
1 tblsp. unsalted butter
1 cup thinly sliced scallions
3/4 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese, well packed (if unavailable, you could use provolone)
1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
1 tblsp. finely minced fresh tarragon or 1 tsp. crumbled dried tarragon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1-2 tblsp. olive oil
1 large clove garlic, split in half
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

    Heat the 2 tblsp. of olive oil and the butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the scallions and saute until barely tender, stirring constantly, about 1 minute.  Add the zucchini and saute until tender-crisp, about 1 minute. 

    Take off the heat and add the cheese, breadcrumbs, tarragon, salt, and pepper.  Mix well and let cool slightly.

    With a fork, thoroughly blend the beaten egg into the stuffing and divide it into 6 portions.  Cool to room temperature.

    Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.  Brush a baking dish with 1-2 tblsp. olive oil.  Spoon the stuffing into the pockets in the meat ( I used my fingers ) and thoroughly rub the garlic halves over the skin of the chicken.  Drizzle liberally with extra-virgin olive oil.

    Bake for 30 minutes or just until the skin starts to turn very light golden.  Remove and baste with any pan juices and continue to bake, basting frequently, until breasts are deep golden, about 30 more minutes.
( There wasn't much skin on these breasts so they didn't turn as golden as I like, and just in case you were thinking these look a little funny....the only chicken breasts I could find at the store this time were HUGE, so I cut  them in half to make six pieces).
    Try this recipe out on your family and, if you get the thumbs up, invite some company over next time.