Thursday, October 6, 2011

Lemon Herb-Stuffed Chicken

This is a light and fabulous meal for a weeknight dish with a little flair. As my dad would say, "the flavors explode in your mouth!"

4 large thick chicken breasts, 1 1/2-2 1/2 pounds total (or skin-on breasts of the same size)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 cup minced shallots
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon minced fresh lemon thyme or regular thyme
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
1/4 cup finely chopped prosciutto (may substitute cooked, crumbled bacon)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lemon Butter Sauce:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 400. Butterfly the chicken breasts, making a "pocket" in each piece of meat. Or if using skin-on breasts, loosen the skin, leaving one side attached. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until tender and aromatic, but not browned, 3-5 minutes. Take the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon zest, thyme, sage, and prosciutto with salt and pepper to taste. Carefully stuff 1/4 of the shallot-herb mixture into each chicken breast "pocket" (or under the skin of skin-on breasts). Seal with toothpicks as necessary.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken, skin-side down, until well browned, about 4 minutes on each side. Transfer the breasts to a baking sheet and bake until the juices run clear when pierced with the tip of a knife in the thickest part, about 10 minutes.

While the chicken is baking, make the sauce. Melt the butter in a small skillet (go ahead and use the same skillet you made the herbed shallots in to maintain those flavors and any leftover herbs!) over medium-low heat, shaking the pan gently so the butter melts evenly. Watch carefully as the butter begins to foam, then take the pan from the heat when the butter becomes light brown and smells slightly nutty. Stir in the parsley and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Put the chicken on a serving platter or individual plates, spoon the sauce over, and serve.

Pairs wonderfully with pesto tortellini and a green salad.

Serves 4.

Recipe adapted from Celebrate the Rain by the Junior League of Seattle.

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