Sunday, June 17, 2012

Pesto Stuffed Chicken

This chicken so much more than pesto + chicken. It's pesto + chicken + roasted red bell pepper + mozzarella cheese. How good does that sound? Plus, you can bake it (which is what I do) or you can grill it (which is how my momma does hers). See, another recipe you can adapt to what you have in the kitchen. I could grill mine seeing as how I have a stove top grill pan, but do I really want to set off the smoke detectors and have the whole building evacuated? No, not really. I'll stick to the oven.

This recipe is one of my mom's originals. I can't remember the first time she made it, but when she did, it was so delicious. I clearly did not forget it and it is now one of my go to, super easy, can prepare ahead of time, pop in the oven when you are ready, recipes. Wow, that was a mouthful, but it's so true. It's five ingredients or less and it takes under 30 minutes to bake (depending on the size of your chicken breasts). To prep and get them ready to cook, you take one of your chicken breasts and slice it in half, well not all the way in half. You will want to create a pocket to hold the pepper and cheese. Don't worry if you are confused, I will show you a picture in a minute and you will see what I am talking about. It's easy. Promise. Would I show you something that was hard and that I couldn't do? No. 

Once you have the chicken breast with a pocket, rub it all over (inside and out with pesto) to coat. Here is a tip - if you have a huge jar of pesto, place some in a bowl so you don't contaminate the other stuff with chicken juice. In fact, before you even start, lay out a station that has your pesto, peppers and cheese ready to go so you don't go all touching everything with you chicken hands. Sorry, I'm a meat juice freak. Once they are rubbed with pesto, place the chicken breasts on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Then layer in the peppers (as much or at little as you like) and then put in a piece of cheese. I prefer to use string cheese because it's the perfect size to fit in the chicken pocket. You can use the whole stick or cut it in half. Once they are stuffed (make sure it's not too full so the cheese doesn't ooze out all over) and them put the chicken flap back on and you are ready to go. You can bake or grill right away for cover with plastic wrap or foil and cook them later (or the next day). Easy peasy and so delicious. I am willing to bet that you may make this for your next weekend dinner party or even your next backyard BBQ.

Not to forget - today is Father's Day! Is this a recipe perfect enough for Dad? It think so! Happy Father's Day to all the amazing dad's out there. I'll be spending the day with mine and you better be too! Love you Dad!


coating and stuffing station ready to go. no contamination here!

this is the flap you are looking for.

coated ALL over with pesto. it's the besto!


ready to enjoy with my fave sides!

Pesto Stuffed Chicken

2 chicken breasts
1 cup pesto (you may use less or more, but start with that and see if what you need)
1 jar roasted red bell peppers , drained
2 pieces of string cheese (or 1/2 cup grated or sliced mozzarella cheese)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with foil and place all ingredients in a row for easy assembling (see picture above). Take your chicken breast and slice a small pocket in each making sure not to cut all the way through, but to leave enough room for the cheese and peppers. Once each chicken breast has been cut, rub each one (all over, inside and out) with pesto. Coat well. Then stuff each chicken breast with the peppers and the cheese. Place the top flap of the chicken breast back on the top and make sure you have not filled it too full. You do not want everything sliding out when you're cooking it.

 If you are grilling, you can close it shut with a skewer or toothpick, but it may not be necessary. This is up to you. If you are grilling, cook until the chicken is cooked through (my guess is about 20 minutes, but I don't know for certain since I have never grilled this). If you are baking, bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the juices run clear. Once baked and ready to go, cover with foil and let sit for five minutes, then enjoy!

*Note - This recipe is totally adaptable to a large group of people, just make sure you have enough of all ingredients!*

My favorite way to enjoy this chicken is with a big scoop of garlic and parmesan risotto and green beans with shallots (another mom recipe). So good and so easy - just cook up some shallots with olive oil until soft and tender. Season with salt and pepper and then toss in your cooked green beans. I love the ones from the frozen section at Trader Joes (just heat and heat!), but use fresh or whatever you like. The perfect side dish!

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