I’ve recommended skewering your meat before…. now I’m telling you to STUFF IT!
Cooking chicken, although easy, can be a pretty monotonous process; oil in pan, spice/marinade on chicken, brown-flip-brown, eat. It’s nice to know how to do it and do it quick when you’re already spending extra time on the side dishes. A little spice can go a long way. But lately I’ve been looking at the chicken in my fridge and it’s talking back to me. And it has attitude. It’s saying “Dress me up! I’m tired of the same old same old. I need a fresh new look for this season!” Demanding, huh? So I’m gonna stuff it. It won’t be talking back to me soon.
Toothpicks and cooking twine will become your best friends. Why? Because they hold together what can’t be contained while being cooked. When you’re making something stuffed and it doesn’t come with a natural “pocket”, you have to be creative. So how can we be creative with chicken? Let’s see….
Pick a flavor first. Are you in an italian mood? Try stuffing that chicken with fresh mozzarella/parmesan, sundried tomatoes or spinach, fresh basil (or dried) and some olives! Want greek? Try this recipe from Taste and Tell. It’s feta, cream cheese and sundried tomatoes. Both of these, though easy and tasty, are common flavors in the stuffed chicken world. Let’s go a little crazy….
How about mexican? Stuff it with chorizo, black beans, queso cheese, jalapeno/green pepper, corn, some cilantro and top the whole thing off with some taco spice! Or if you want a more sweet flavor, try substituting the jalapeno for pineapple! Or maybe you want more of a fajita dish… stuff it with grilled onion and peppers and some brown rice, then top off the whole thing with fajita spice and some guacamole!
You also don’t have to have a cuisine in mind. What do you have in your kitchen? Right now I have a lot of fruits, veggies and nuts. Maybe I’d want to fill it with some apple, sliced almond, goat or feta cheese and top it all off with balsamic vinegar. Or maybe I just want a comfort food flavor, so I’ll fill it with fresh broccoli and shredded sharp cheddar cheese and put it over a bed of rice. How about stuffing the chicken with a slice of reduced-fat cheese, using a grill rub on the outside, BBQ sauce on the inside (with the cheese) and wrapping it all with some turkey bacon? Mmmm! That idea comes straight from Bakin and Eggs. The possibilities are endless! This kind of experimentation is fun AND tasty.
So once you’ve picked out your ingredients, how do you cook it? Well, you can use one of two basic methods. You can cut a pocket (horizontal cut through one side and the middle, leaving the other side intact), stuff your ingredients in there and toothpick or twine it together. Or you can sandwich your chicken between saran wrap and pound it (gently; you don’t want exploding chicken all over the kitchen!) to about 1/4 inch thick, put your ingredients inside, roll it up and either toothpick, twine or wrap in bacon!
Once your prep and wrap is done, it’s time to cook. You can do this a few different ways. You can cook it in a skillet with a little olive oil until your chicken is no longer pink on the inside (or just brown it on the skillet and then put skillet in 375 degree oven for 15 minutes). You can do the whole thing in the oven at 375 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. You can broil it (probably not the best option for really gooey ones with lots of cheese since it’ll just melt and lots will drip out). Lastly, you could grill it! If the weather is nice, grilling is DEFINITELY a great option!
In the Weight Watchers world, chicken is only 1 point per ounce. When you’re putting together your chicken, make sure to weigh it. If you don’t have a scale, I can tell you that the average chicken breast is about 7-8 oz, so about 7-8 points. Olive oil is 1 point per tsp, so you’ll have to count that into your total. Fruit is free and so are most vegetables, so that’s a nice break! Reduced fat cheese of most kinds tends to be about 2 points per 1/4 cup or 1 point per slice of RF singles. Just write down what your ingredients are and add up the points. One chicken breast stuffed nicely could feed two people, so you’re probably looking at around 10 points total; 5 points per serving! Pretty awesome
Chicken doesn’t have to be boring. You don’t have to let it talk back to you anymore. You can STUFF IT. Plump up that bird with all things savory and sweet. Have kids? They can help you! Turn the stuffin into a family affair. Kids always like to eat what they make on their own. Blast away that monotony and rediscover how awesome chicken can be!