This dish was inspired by lemons, of all things. I had a few beautiful lemons that I wanted to use so I went hunting for something unusual to do with them. I turned to my (husband…if you are reading this…skip the next line) giant collection of cooking magazines and found inspiration in the pages of an older issue of Saveur. There was a beautiful photograph of stuffed chicken breasts surrounded by lemons that were caramelized in the most appealing of ways (you can find the original recipe and photo here).
I made a few alterations to the recipe based on need (couldn’t find any raclette) and desire (I have decided I don’t like tarragon).
Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Proscuitto, Thyme and Fontina
You will need to tie up the breasts with some kitchen twine…if you are unfamiliar with a good technique, improvise. It could be fun.
- 4 bone-in chicken breasts (larger is better)
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme
- 4 large slices of proscuitto TIP: Ask the deli not to slice these too thinly
- 4 slices of fontina
- large glug of olive oil
- 1/2 c. chicken stock
- 2 lemons, sliced in half
1) Preheat your oven to 475 F.
2) Pat your chicken breasts with paper towel until they are dry. This will make for much better results when browning them. Season them with salt and pepper.
3) Find the meatiest part of the breast and cut a pocket into it (towards the bone) being sure not to split the skin.
4) Peel the garlic and chop it finely. Add the fresh thyme and coarse salt and continue to chop finely. With the flat edge of your knife, sort of smush it all together into a paste.
5) Spread your garlic paste onto the pieces of proscuitto. Wrap the proscuitto around a piece of Fontina and form sort of a package. Tuck the package in the pocket you made in the chicken breast.
6) Tie the chicken breast in any manner you see fit. I tried to do one length-wise and two loops on the shorter sides. You can sort of see it in the photo. Squeeze a few whole sprigs of thyme under the string on the skin side of the breast.
7) Heat up a generous glug of olive oil in an oven-proof saute pan large enough to hold all of the chicken breasts with room between each of them.
8) Add the chicken breasts, skin side down, to the pan and leave them there to brown for 2-3 minutes. Resist the temptation to check on them by lifting them up. If you allow the skin to truly brown, it won’t stick to the pan. If you lift to early, you will lose some of your beautiful skin.
9) Transfer your pan to the oven and bake the chicken for 15 minutes. Then, flip them over so the skin side is up and will have an opportunity to get nice and crispy in the oven, about another 5 minutes.
10) Remove the pan from the oven and plate the chicken breasts (be sure to remove the twine…I speak from experience).
11) Return the pan to the stove on medium-high heat. Add the lemons, cut side down and brown for about 3-5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a gentle boil, reducing by half. Distribute the sauce over your plated chicken breasts.
This looks like a lot of steps (ie: work) but it really isn’t. It doesn’t take that long to prepare and is a good “impress your guests” dish. Some steamed new potatoes and green beans would make a nice choice of accompaniments.