Sunday, February 14, 2010

Goat Cheese-Stuffed Chicken with Strawberry Gastrique

Cleaning out the refrigerator ranks right up there with scrubbing toilets and cleaning grout. I hate doing it. It usually means digging into the inner depths of the fridge and extracting some moldy cheese that was long since forgotten, a potato that is softer than a Nerf ball (yeah, I know I shouldn't store potatoes in the fridge), remnants of a cucumber I forgot I had and a sauce that can no longer be identified. Sometimes, though, cleaning out the fridge can yield some tasty results. That's how this recipe came into being.
The original recipe inspiration came from Cooking Light. And like usual, I didn't have everything I needed, so I substituted ingredients. This is what I came up with. The syrup was absolutely divine!

Goat Cheese-Stuffed Chicken with Strawberry Gastrique
1 cup chopped strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup sherry
2 tbsp vinegar
1/3 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 cup goat cheese
1/8 cup crumbled Gorgonzola or bleu cheese
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 tsp dried)
2 ounces prosciutto or bacon, chopped
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
Cooking spray
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Place strawberries in a small, heavy saucepan; partially mash with a fork. Stir in sugar, sherry, vinegar, broth, and coriander; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until reduced to 2/3 cup (about 30 minutes), stirring occasionally. Strain mixture through a sieve over a bowl; discard solids.

2. In separate bowl, combine cheeses, thyme, and prosciutto/bacon. Pat chicken dry. Cut a horizontal slit through thickest portion of each breast to form a pocket; spoon 3 tablespoons cheese mixture into each pocket.

3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle both sides of chicken evenly with salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan; cook 6 minutes or until browned. Turn chicken over; cook 5 minutes or until done. Serve with sauce.

Substitution Suggestions: The original recipe called for 1/2 cup sherry vinegar. I didn't have any so I used sherry and white vinegar to equal the 1/2 cup. It tasted just fine. The original recipe also did not call for goat cheese. That is my addition since I needed to use or lose it. If goat cheese is unavailable, go with 1/4 cup gorgonzola and it'll be just fine.
If your clean-out-the-fridge chore doesn't include any use-or-lose strawberries, try the recipe with raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc.

Lessons Learned: The chicken required more cooking time than the recipe indicated. Perhaps if the chicken were pounded to a more even thickness before it was slit and stuffed, that would have helped. At any rate, make sure the chicken is cooked through before spooning the sauce over it because microwaving chicken is disgusting!
Instead of tossing the solids from the sauce, serve rolls with the meal and use the solids as as a savory jam.
The sauce really is what makes this recipe so good. The thick syrup is a beautiful blend of sweet and savory happiness. It could easily be poured over pork chops or fish.

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