1/4 pound (4 ounces) sliced, shredded, or chunks of cheese, such as Cheddar, mozzarella,
provolone, or Swiss
2 tablespoons cream cheese
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 6- to 8-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry
2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Fancy-looking stuffed chicken is actually a last-minute pantry supper at my house. I’m a huge fan of frozen spinach and consider it a must-have freezer item because it’s so easy to add to a soup or pasta dish, to make into a side dish with garlic and lemon, or to turn into creamed spinach. The idea for this dish came from a few string cheese nubs in the fridge and a package of frozen spinach. To add a nice creaminess, I use cream cheese, another must-have ingredient in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the thawed spinach in a paper towel, squeeze out the excess liquid, and transfer the spinach to the bowl of a food processor. Add the cheese, cream cheese, lemon zest, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Pulse until the cheese is broken up into small pieces and everything is nicely mixed, about five 3-second pulses. Set aside.
Place the flour in a shallow baking dish and set aside. Place your palm flat on top of a chicken breast and, using a sharp paring knife and starting about 1/2 inch from the tip, make a long slit in the side of the chicken, working the knife about three quarters of the way through to the other side, but not cutting through the breast completely, to make a good-sized pocket. Repeat with the remaining 3 breasts and then stuff each with a few tablespoons of the spinach stuffing. Thread 2 to 3 toothpicks (or shortened wood skewers) from top to bottom through the edge of the pocket to fasten it shut. Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and then roll the breasts through the flour, lifting out and gently tapping each one to knock off extra flour.
Heat the oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken breasts, smooth side down, and cook until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Use tongs to turn over the breasts and brown on the other side, about 3 minutes more. Drizzle the lemon juice over the chicken and sprinkle the butter pieces over the chicken. Place the chicken in the oven until cooked through and firm to the touch, about 15 minutes. Serve drizzled with the sauce from the pan.
Reprinted from the book Ten Dollar Dinners. Copyright © 2012 by Melissad’Arabian. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.