I will admit that I am a cheese lover. Give me some tangy old cheese with a strong taste and I’m right there. Gouda, Cheddar, Blue Cheese – I love it all. But my favourite is simple goat cheese – chevre. It’s very easy to make at home as long as you have access to fresh goat’s milk.
Without a goat, or access to fresh goat’s milk, it’s a trifle expensive to buy, but it’s still delicious. Since people frown at me when I eat an entire package with crackers, so I have to make recipes that share the yummy. If you’d like to try your hand at making fresh goat’s milk cheese, though, the recipe is in my massive cookbook A Cabin Full of Food. (I do mean massive – most people are shocked to find that it is huge and contains almost 1000 recipes!)
This stuffed chicken breast recipe takes just a bit of prep work but comes together quickly.
Now you need to butterfly FOUR 6-ounce chicken breasts. This simply means that you run a sharp knife horizontally through the thickest part of each. Place a hand on top to stabilize the meat and hold the knife parallel to the countertop. Do not cut all the way through. The goal is to almost cut the chicken breast in half so that it can be opened up and flattened. Now add salt and pepper according to your personal tastes. Place these in the refrigerator to keep cool while you organize the filling.
Next to cook 6 slices of bacon, cool them and crumble them. Of course, no one really cooks just 6 pieces of bacon, so cook the entire package and have it for breakfast. Cooked bacon also freezes very well. Divide the bacon into four little piles.
Roll 6 basil leaves and slice them thinly. Or just chop them – no one’s judging how your basil looks. Divide the basil into four – you can put them into the same piles as the bacon.
The final step in preparing your filling is to divide 4 ounces goat cheese into those same piles, crumbled into small pieces.
Sprinkle the mixture over each breast. It certainly does not need to look pretty, just evenly divided.
Fold the breasts in half so the cheese mixture is surrounded by chicken breast on the bottom, back and top. Secure with long wooden toothpicks, if desired.
At this point, turn the oven to 375F.
Heat a bit of oil (about 2 tablespoons) over medium-high heat in a large skillet.
Once hot, carefully add the stuffed chicken breasts to the pan to sear. Brown them on the bottom, and then carefully turn each breast over and repeat on the other side. Season top and bottom with salt and pepper while they are browning.
You are not trying to cook the meat through, just brown it. Transfer the breasts to an oven-safe casserole unless your skillet is big enough to hold all four AND oven-safe.
Place in preheated oven and cook until an instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees when inserted, approximately 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover until ready to serve.
A few minutes before removing the chicken from the oven, start making the balsamic glaze. Heat 1 cup balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Stir while heating until the vinegar is reduced to about 1/3 of its original volume. It will form a thick, syrupy consistency when it is ready.
To serve, place a stuffed chicken breast on each plate and drizzle with balsamic glaze. This goes well with a mixed green salad or roasted vegetables. You can certainly also serve it with rice.