What can you do with a bag of spinach, a jar of artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, a few mushrooms and some chicken breasts? You can make a fragrant and delicious dinner, worthy of a five star restaurant.
I craved something different, and a trip to the grocery store was not in my plans. I keep a pretty well stocked pantry, and always have fresh vegies on hand. So what did I have to throw together for a special meal? Fresh spinach and a jar of artichoke hearts always go together, and I had some roasted red peppers that were crying out to be used. There were some mushrooms in the refrigerator and a little bit of red pepper pesto left in the bottom of a jar. And I knew I had some chicken breasts. It didn’t take me long to make a decision. Those chicken breasts were about to be stuffed. I was getting hungry just thinking about how delicious that sounded.
The first thing I did was to get out my Grandmother Vickers’ large cast iron skillet. Every time I use it, I think of her in the kitchen frying chicken or okra, or eggplant for Sunday dinner. She always had it on the stove, cooking something good. True Southern Comfort Food was all she served, and it was absolutely delicious. You always finished your meal feeling like you could not possibly eat another bite. Then she would bring out the desserts. At least two cakes and a pie or two, and maybe some home made candy. You could not refuse a large slice of home made cake or pie. She would not let you leave the table until you ate at least one piece of something. We always made room in our stuffed bellies for her delicious desserts, and were mighty glad we did.
Tonight, I used my favorite skillet to pound the chicken breasts to about 1/4 inch thickness between two sheets of wax paper. Depending on your counter tops, you might want to be careful what you use to pound your chicken. I have tiles on my counters, but my hubby made me an amazing, extra-large cutting board, that is multi-functional. As long as I did not hit the board with the pan, everything was fine. Those breasts were perfect for stuffing when I got through with them, and no dings in my cutting board or cracked countertop.
In a medium size mixing bowl, I combined the chopped spinach, mushrooms, onions, artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, pesto and several other ingredients. My signature Datil Zest was sprinkled liberally on top. A dash of Snake Bite Datil Pepper Hot Sauce, to spice things up, and my stuffing was complete. It smelled heavenly.
On the bone side of the chicken breasts, I spread a generous amount of the filling and rolled them up jelly roll fashion. A few toothpicks to hold them together, and they went into a baking pan. 350 degrees for 35 minutes and they were cooked all the way through. The stuffed breasts then went onto a platter to rest while I used the drippings from the pan to make a quick gravy. Sliced in 1/2 inch slices, and drizzled with gravy, they were mouth-wateringly delicious.
Spicy Spinach, Artichoke and Roasted Red Pepper Stuffed Chicken Breasts
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- waxed paper
- 1 bag of fresh spinach, chopped, ( OR 1 package of frozen chopped spinach – 10 oz)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 10-12 small mushrooms, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon Old St Augustine Datil Zest Seasoning
- 1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
- 1 small jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
- 1 fresh Rosemary, chopped finely
- 1 teaspoon roasted red pepper pesto
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella, or cheese of choice
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon (or to taste) Old St Augustine Snake Bite or Venom Datil Pepper Hot Sauce
- 11 x 13 baking pan, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray
- 2 Tablespoons of drippings from the cooked chicken
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 1/2 teaspoon Old St Augustine Datil Zest
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 cup chicken broth
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place chicken breasts in the center of 2 large sheets of waxed paper. Pound out the chicken from the center outward, using a heavy-bottomed skillet or meat mallet. You do need to apply some pressure, but please don’t beat up the chicken. Pound it to an even thickness. If using a meat mallet, start at the center of the breasts and move out to the edges. I love using my grandmother’s large cast iron skillet as it only takes a few whacks on top of each piece of chicken to flatten it out.
If using fresh spinach, roughly chop and place in medium size mixing bowl.
(If using frozen spinach, defrost the spinach in your microwave. I place a clean dish towel in the bottom of a colander and place the thawed spinach on top of the towel. Let it drain a few minutes. You will then need to wrap the spinach in the towel and wring out the liquid. Once you remove all the liquid, you can place the spinach in your mixing bowl.)
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. When the skillet is hot, add the butter, mushrooms, garlic and onion. Season with Old St Augustine Datil Zest Seasoning and cook for about 3 minutes. Add in the artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers and Rosemary and heat another 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the mushroom, onion, artichoke and red pepper mixture to the mixing bowl with the spinach. Add in the Parmesan cheese along with the Mozzarella and pesto. Stir in the Old St Augustine Snake Bite or Venom Datil Pepper Hot Sauce. Mix well to combine ingredients.
Place the chicken breasts bone side up on a piece of waxed paper. Divide the stuffing among the chicken breasts and roll each breast around the stuffing. Secure the rolls with toothpicks. Place the chicken breast rolls in a large pan sprayed with cooking spray. Place the pan in the 350 degree F oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until the chicken is cooked all the way through. An instant-read thermometer should register 165 degrees F when inserted into the thickest part of the chicken.
Remove the chicken from the pan to a platter to rest while you make the gravy.
Pour the chicken drippings from the pan into the skillet you used to saute the mushroom and onion mixture earlier. Place the skillet over medium heat. Heat until bubbling, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the flour and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Then whisk in the Old St Augustine Datil Zest and the wine and cook for a few more minutes to reduce the wine by half. Add in the chicken broth and cook the gravy for a few more minutes or until desired thickness. (The longer you cook this, the thicker it will get. If you get it too thick, you can always add a little more broth to thin out the gravy.)
Remove the toothpicks from the chicken rolls and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Place each breast on a plate and fan out the slices so you can see the beautiful stuffing. Top with your flavorful gravy and serve.
Your guests will rave over this one!