Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Rescue Me

This weekend I executed a rescue mission. Unlike my last mission, where I feigned injury to get a friend out of an unfortunate first date, this mission involved saving food from an ugly and untimely demise. You see, despite my best attempts at overeating in the days before moving from my old apartment to my new one, there were still plenty of ingredients left in my fridge and freezer. Chicken, ground beef, frozen veggies and several expensive condiments were left stranded on the east side, just days from seeing the inside of the new tenants garbage can. Inspired by the action stars of my childhood (which all appear to be popular again), I set forth to rescue my food and veggies and cart them to my new home across town. While we're semi on topic, why were people always stranded or held captive in the jungle in the 80's? And why are they all involved in politics now? What's next, Senator Jean-Claude Van Damme?

Anyway, back to the food. My mission ended with a plop on the sofa after a few pulled muscles and a cab ride I couldn't afford. But, my new fridge (and I do mean new--no more 1970's appliances here!) was now stocked, as was my freezer. I was finally able to plan a few meals for the week ahead...or at least that's what I should have done. Instead, I went to a big fabulous Oscar party and schmoozed, while only occasionally leaving the snack table to see who'd won. So it's no surprise that as I awoke the next morning, it occurred to me that I'd probably be spending a fair amount of time standing in front of the fridge figuring out the night's dinner. Having not yet made my morning coffee, I stood with one foot on the other, in my pj's, staring at the contents of my fridge. Cold, tired, and terribly under caffeinated, I reached in with both hands, grabbing the two closest ingredients: chicken and spinach.

It was only after I'd gotten to work (and two cups of coffee into my day) that it occurred to me...I've never actually used those two ingredients in tandem. Throwing ideas around with Alyssa, my fellow home cook, it was suggested that I roll the chicken breast around the spinach, a method I'd never tried. A quick recipe search gave me a few ideas for the spinach stuffing, which included mushrooms (already about to die in my crisper), almonds, and the Spanish contribution to the recipe, chorizo (I had to sneak in pimentón and pork products somehow). I ended up veering from all of the recipes I'd found, but I did borrow the idea of using a compound butter to keep the thin chicken breast moist as it roasted in the oven. The dish turned out great, and I even made a quick pan sauce while the chicken rested. So in the end, despite all of the exhaustion and strained muscles, the rescue mission was worth the effort. Now if I could only find someone to rescue me from all these dishes... Chuck? Arnold? Anyone?

Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken with Chorizo

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
1 1/2 cups frozen spinach, thawed, excess liquid drained
2 cups mushrooms, chopped (I used shiitake and oyster, but anything will do)
1/2 cup chorizo, chopped
1/4 cup white wine
2 Tbsp butter

Compound Butter
4 Tbsp butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flake
2 tsp parsley

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine all of the ingredients of the compound butter until well incorporated.

2. Melt 2 Tbsp of the butter mixture in a skillet. Add the mushrooms and sauté until tender. Add the chorizo and sauté another minute. In a small bowl, set aside a tablespoon of the mushroom and chorizo mixture.

3. Add spinach to skillet and cook until warmed through. Set aside.

4. Take half of the remaining butter mixture and spread onto one side of each chicken breast. Spoon 3 tablespoons of the spinach filling onto each piece of chicken (buttered side) and roll to close. Place on a baking tray and top each rolled piece of chicken with the remaining butter mixture. Cook in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

5. Meanwhile, warm the mushroom and chorizo mixture that was set aside in a skillet. Add the white wine and cook until reduced by 1/3. Remove from the heat and whisk in butter until combined.

6. Plate the chicken and drizzle with wine butter sauce. Enjoy!


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