French-Style Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Inspiration: This inspiration for this meal was a lovely bottle of Dierberg Chardonnay. Brandon and I have our favorites when it comes to wine varietals – I would probably list a super dry and earthy cabernet franc as my top choice, and I think he would list a really good, spicy pinot noir – but we’ve both been in love with oaked chardonnay lately, too. That buttery oak flavor just hasn’t been topped for us when it comes to whites. And a good bottle of wine always deserves a good meal, right?

What We Loved: This was the best fancy meal that we’ve made in a really long time. There are so many wonderful aspects to this dish that I don’t even know where to start. So I’ll begin with the tenderness of the chicken, which is what immediately jumped out at us as being remarkable. I really couldn’t even believe how moist and tender the final result was – I never knew that a chicken breast (which is really the toughest part of the bird) could be so ridiculously tender. It was fabulous! Add to that the earthy, herbal mushroom flavor of the filling and the rich, salty pan sauce with a nice white wine flavor, and this meal was just perfect. It truly felt like something that you might order at a restaurant. We paired this with some creamy lima beans mixed with butter, salt, and pepper and our gorgeous bottle of chardonnay for a perfect Saturday night supper.

Tips: I think this is the first time that I’ve had stuffed and rolled chicken breasts turn out properly shape-wise – that is, in a nice, neat spiral. I’ve tried many times, and do you know what the problem usually is? I hurry through it. As I’ve found in most things that are cooking-related, if you take your time, the results are really just so much better. So I would suggest being really patient with pounding the chicken nice and flat, spreading the mushroom mixture neatly and flatly, and rolling up the chicken carefully (even undoing and re-rolling if you need to). It’s worth the extra time for such a pretty result.

French-Style Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Source: Adapted from¬†Annie’s Eats, originally from Cooks Illustrated

I cut the original recipe in half to serve two and made some further modifications. Here’s the recipe as I made it.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (with tenderloins attached)
Butter
4 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1/2 small leek, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, divided
1/3 cup dry white wine (I used a chardonnay)
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon brown mustard

1. Remove the tenderloins from the chicken breasts and roughly chop. Place into a food processor, and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl.

2. Butterfly each chicken breast horizontally, leaving the two halves attached. Open the butterflied breasts, and lay them flat. Place the chicken into a large ziplock bag, squeeze out the air, and seal. Pound the chicken to 1/4 inch thickness.

3. Heat some butter in a saute pan. Add the mushrooms, and cook until the moisture evaporates and the mushrooms brown. Add the leek and more butter, if necessary, and cook for a few more minutes. Add the garlic and thyme, and cook for about a minute. Add 1 teaspoon lemon juice and stir.

4. Transfer the mushroom mixture to the food processor. Return the pan to the heat, add the wine, and scrape the pan to loosen the browned bits. Transfer the wine mixture to a bowl and set aside.

5. Pulse the mushroom mixture in the food processor until finely chopped. Add to the bowl with the pureed chicken. Season with salt and pepper, and mix well.

6. Spread half of the filling into each chicken breast, smoothing if flat and leaving an edge around the perimeter. Roll up each breast as tightly as possible, and place seam side down. Tie with kitchen twine if desired.

7. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat some more butter in the saute pan, carefully add the chicken seam-side down, and brown. Flip, brown the other side, and then flip one more time so that the seam-side is down again. Add the chicken stock and the reserved wine mixture, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and tent with foil.

8. Whisk the mustard into the cooking liquid in the pan. Scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan to incorporate them into the sauce. Simmer until reduced and thickened, about 8-10 minutes. Turn off the heat, and whisk in the butter and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

9. Slice the chicken, and serve it with the sauce spooned over top.

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