Kale & Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts
This recipe is visually stunning but not very difficult, which makes it a must!
This dish is so easy you can make it any night of the week, but it’s so decadent that it’s fit for company or any special occasion. The sautéed kale, creamy goat cheese, and sweet golden raisins are a fitting trio. Make the filling a day or two in advance; the chicken breasts may be stuffed a day ahead and cooked off before service. Be sure to make as big a pocket at possible without tearing the meat so you can pack it with lots of filling. Double the recipe to make this for a crowd, served as a buffet item, whether it be warm, room temperature, or cold.
Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; paring knife; wet and dry measuring cups; measuring spoons; large sauté pan; wooden spoon; small mixing bowl; rimmed sheet pan; pastry brush; tongs
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 bunches lacinato kale, ribs removed
1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese, cold
¼ cup golden raisins
chopped fresh herbs (dill, parsley, chervil, or basil), optional
lemon zest, optional
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
"This recipe is easily made with spinach instead of kale, and diced apricots instead of raisins. Cranberries in the winter can replace either of those. Make it your own!"
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Prepare the kale. Remove the ribs and stack the leaves in groups of four. Roll each stack and slice thinly, in chiffonade. Set aside.
3. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Swirl to coat the pan and add the kale. Season with a pinch of kosher salt. Reduce the heat to medium and sauté for 3-4 minutes, or until wilted. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.
4. Using a paring or chef's knife, make a deep and wide pocket in each chicken breast by piercing the plump, wider end of the chicken breast with the knife, moving the knife gently from side to side, about 2 inches wide, within half an inch of the edges.
5. Chop the wilted kale before gently combining it with the crumbled goat cheese, golden raisins, and optional herbs and zest. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Set aside.
ILOC tip: once you have combined all the filling elements and you are going to season with salt and pepper "to taste" you really should actually taste it to confirm that it's just right.
6. Brush a rimmed sheet pan with olive oil and set aside.
7. Divide the kale filling into fourths. Place one portion of filling inside each chicken breast, evenly distributing it throughout the pocket. Wipe the chicken breasts clean of any filling that sticks to the outside. Brush the outside of each breast with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
8. Place the breasts facing upward on the rimmed sheet pan (the undersides, where the tenders touch the breast bone, should touch the surface of the pan). Bake at 375°F for 10-15 minutes, until springy to the touch.
9. Let the stuffed chicken breasts rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing in ½-inch slices. Alternatively, wait longer for the breasts to rest, up to one hour, and serve room temperature. Or place the room temperature breasts in the refrigerator, covered, to slice and serve cold.
Makes 4 servings.