Christmas Chicken

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I actually didn't make this on Christmas, and no one will arrest you if you make it at a different time of the year, but I figure any recipe that's ingredients are mostly green and red, deserves a special name.

I was inspired to make stuffed chicken when my friend, Erin, told me about a recipe she made one night. I asked her for it and assumed I'd make the same exact one for a Christmas party I attended, but as I read the recipe, a few other ideas popped into my head and it morphed into something completely different.
Fast forward a few days later...
I needed a recipe for a cheese party (insert your cackles here.) So, what does one non-cheese eating girl and her non-cheese eating bf bring to a cheese filled Christmas party? Why chicken, of course. I've made this recipe one other time since and both times it was a huge success. For the party I actually baked feta on top of the chicken, 1. because I can tolerate feta 2. it looked pretty and 3. I felt I had to contribute some kind of cheese if I wanted to be allowed into the soiree. I also cut the chicken in half after I cooked it because there was so much food at the party. If you serve it as the star for dinner you don't need to halve them.
In any case, Christmas or not, try this dish if you're looking for something a little festive to do to your chicken...serve it with creamy mashed potatoes and your peeps will be kissing you under the mistletoe all night (even in July).

Serves 4-6
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 bag fresh, raw spinach, o 2 small bunches
1 bottle julienne cut sun dried tomatoes, drained
8 oz pesto, store bought or fresh
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
4-6 oz feta cheese, if desired.

Preheat oven to 325.
In a skillet, saute garlic and olive oil, add spinach in two batches, until it's soft and wilted, but not mushy. Do you really want mushy spinach? I didn't think so.
While spinach is wilting, make a slice through the middle of chicken breasts- like you're butterflying them. You want to stuff the chicken, so don't cut it all the way through, or you'll turn your 4-6 breasts into 8-12. However, if your slicing doesn't go according to plan, calm down, drink some wine, or leftover Christmas cookies, and get over it.
When spinach is cooked, turn off the stove and throw in the drained sun dried tomatoes to the spinach mixture. Divide the mixture into equal parts and shove in teh middle of your chicken. If you have some chicken causalities, just lay the mixture between each half of the chicken, like you would for a sandwich.
Place the chicken in a casserole dish, roasting pan, etc. Brush pesto on top of each breast- liberally. You want it well coated- not a spot of chicken should be seen.
Place in oven for 35 minutes.
If desired, add feta cheese after 35 minutes and throw the pan back in the oven until cheese is soft and slightly golden.
If you're an uncommon folk, I love you, and keep your chicken in the oven, without cheese for 45-50 minutes. I chose to cook the chicken at a low temperature because it was moist and tender. This means, depending on the thickness of your chicken, you may have to cook for upwards of an hour.


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