Wednesday, May 14, 2008
It occurred to me recently that I've stopped cooking with many of the proteins that I used to use on an almost daily basis. Chicken breast, for example, has long been a staple in my fridge and in my freezer. I really like buying entire boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cutting them into cutlets myself. Here in Manhattan, a small tray of thinly sliced chicken breasts can cost upwards of $9.00 and barely has enough food for two people. For about $6.00, you can usually get a large tray with 2 full skinless and boneless chicken breasts that can work out to over 10 portions of chicken. Sure, this wallet friendly option means you have to slice the chicken yourself, but lets face it, compared to the already sliced option, it's like you're getting an extra 80 bucks worth of chicken with only 15 or 20 minutes of extra effort. Not to mention, if you're as big a nerd as I am, you can divide the chicken into single or double portion ziploc bags (with labels) and freeze them for future use.
I like to always have this cut of chicken on hand because it's quick cooking, healthy, and extremely versatile. One would think that I'd be a big fan of fattier cuts with skin, but no cook is a bigger champion for convenience than I am, and no cut is more convenient than this one. From salads to grilled dishes and stir-fry, chicken breast is great for big meals or last minute dinners. One of my favorite things to do is to turn thinly sliced chicken breast into a kind of chicken roll by stuffing it with all kinds of things--cheese, spices, breadcrumbs, you name it. These are great for kids too, especially if you make them bite sized like a chickeny pig in a blanket and serve them with dipping sauce. It's a great way to get your little ones to eat their veggies since the fillings are limitless. I went with ricotta cheese, sun dried tomatoes, chive and a little Parmesan cheese. It mixes up quickly and cooks up just as fast. Here's what I used to make it, but feel free to mix in your favorite ingredients (and maybe sneak in a few vegetables!):
Stuffed Chicken Breast with Couscous
4 thin sliced chicken cutlets
4 heaping tsp ricotta cheese
3 tsp finely chopped chive
2 tsp finely chopped sun-dried tomato
1 tsp red pepper flake
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp lemon zest
juice of half a lemon
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1. Combine ricotta, chive, sun-dried tomato, red pepper flake, Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a bowl.
2. Spoon 1/4 of the mixture onto the center of each cutlet and fold ends over to enclose the stuffing and create a roll.
3. Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken rolls to skillet, flat side down (not the side where the chicken overlaps) and cook until browned. Flip and cook on the other side until browned.
4. Add lemon juice to skillet and and cover with a lid. Cook on high heat another minute or until chicken is cooked through. Serve over couscous (recipe follows). Enjoy!
**I served this over 1 cup tricolor couscous cooked in 1 cup chicken broth, 2 tsp olive oil and 1/4 tsp each coriander, cumin and parsley.