Chicken can be prepared so many different ways. Its mild flavor makes it adaptable to many different culinary treatments. Chicken is popular, in part, because it's low in fat and calories, relatively inexpensive, and widely available.
However, these same qualities can also make chicken a little boring. Sometimes you need to use your imagination when cooking chicken to avoid "dull" and "routine."
In the recipe below, the combination of basil, one of the most flavorful of herbs, with the potency of kalamata olives makes these chicken breasts simply burst with flavor. And the effect of the chicken infused with savory, melting goat cheese is practically irresistible. Cooking the chicken at a lower temperature for a short period of time allows you to remove the breasts while they're remarkably moist and tender.
Chicken Breast Stuffed with Goat Cheese, Olives, and Basil
2 boneless chicken breast halves, skin on
6 ripe kalamata olives, chopped
2 T./30 ml goat cheese or feta
3 fresh basil leaves, shredded
2 T./30 ml butter
1. Chop the olives.
2. Chiffonade the basil (basil, like any other herb, should always be cut, broken, ground, or crushed to release its flavor).
3. Mix the olives, basil, and goat cheese in a small mixing bowl. You can even make this mixture a day ahead and refrigerate it.
4. Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper.
5. Coat the chicken breasts with mayonnaise before cooking. It won't penetrate the chicken breast, but it will help seal in the juices and keep it moist.
6. Slice a pocket in each chicken breast. (To do this, place the chicken breasts, skin side down on a cutting board. Remove the small filet strip that dangles from each breast. Hold the chicken in place by laying one hand flat on the surface on the chicken. Then, holding your utility knife at a 45 degree angle, carefully slice into the chicken breast. Leave about one inch uncut around three sides of the breast. Along the longer side of the breast, make a long, horizontal slice, parallel to the cutting board. Pull the pocket open and trim any connecting tissues.)
7. Stuff each pocket with the olive/basil/cheese mixture. After stuffing, fold the top layer of the chicken breast down to close the pocket and arrange the skin evenly on top.
8. Preheat an oven proof skillet and brown the chicken breasts. (Heat oil in a skillet and when hot, lay each chicken breast, skin side down, in the skillet. Brown for only about five minutes on each side. Flip the breasts only once. Do not flip repeatedly as this will only dry out the chicken.)
9. Place the skillet in the oven at 325 F. and bake, uncovered, for fifteen minutes.
Note - If you don't like the olive/basil/cheese stuffing, there are many others that you can try, and you're limited only by your own imagination. Some of the ones I've tried and liked are:
spinach/cream cheese/nutmeg/ground pepper
pine nuts/garlic/bacon/arugula/basil/parmigiano reggiano
wild mushrooms/thyme/rosemary/goat cheese
proscuitto/Monterey Jack/dried fruits/sweet wine