A week-ish ago it was Ev’s birthday and the inevitable birthday dinner was planned. He decided that he didn’t want a party, claiming it was because he dislikes being the centre of attention but we all know he loves being listened to so that’s not quite true. He just didn’t want people singing to him, I suppose.
I normally go for quick and easy meals when I’m cooking dinner but a birthday is a bit special, so some effort was involved. Not that these are that difficult but they are time consuming because you have to fill, roll and dip. Then bake.
I don’t have anything against fats and oils but I do believe everything in moderation and considering these are stuffed with pesto, in which olive oil is a significant ingredient, they don’t really need to be fried – which is what a lot of people do with chicken kiev (chicken stuffed with garlic butter).
If you want really moist chicken, do the following after you have sliced your chicken breasts in half (or sliced the thigh meat off the bone) and tenderised them – soak in brine for 30 minutes to an hour (ratio 1 cup water to 1 tbsp. salt and 1 tbsp. black pepper). Rinse and pat dry before you move on. I didn’t have time to do this but brining chicken is always a good idea.
Crumbed Basil & Feta Stuffed Chicken
- 3 chicken breasts/6 chicken thighs
- 1/4 cup basil pesto (if store bought – watch for garlic and onion)
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 1/2 cup corn flour/starch
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2 cups GF bread crumbs (I used corn cereal crumbs)
- Wooden Skewers or kitchen twine
Preheat your oven to 180 C/350 F and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Slice your chicken thighs so that the meat comes off the bone in one piece, or your chicken breasts in half, through the middle so that you end up with two reversed pieces. Like so…
Using a kitchen mallet or the back of your soup ladle – I wish we owned a mallet! – lay a plastic bag over your chicken and beat it to about 7.5 to 10 mm thick. It doesn’t have to be perfect but it just means that the meat will cook faster and won’t be as chewy as a thicker roll would.
Lay the chicken out flat and dollop on a tbsp. of pesto and a pinch of feta crumbs. Either take the pesto you are planning on using out of its jar beforehand or use a separate spoon for dolloping than you use to spread the pesto over the chicken. Nobody wants salmonella poisoning next time they use the pesto from the jar. Ouch.
Roll the chicken breast with the fillings on the inside – duh – and either use skewers or kitchen twine to hold them together.
I find it is easier to make and secure all the rolls before progressing to the next step of dipping and crumbing them. That way, when you get your hands dirty – and you will – you can do it all at once and you won’t need to clean your hands between chicken stuffing or crumbing.
Dip each roll into the corn flour and cover it lightly but completely. Then dip the floured roll into the beaten eggs and let the excess drip off. Finally, roll it around in the corn cereal (or other substitute of GF bread crumbs) to thoroughly coat it.
Place each roll on the lined baking tray and refrigerate til they need to be baked. You could even make these a few days ahead and freeze them at this stage. They will need to be baked for 5-10 minutes longer, most likely, if you do this.
Bake at 180 C/350 F for 30-40 minutes, depending on your oven and how thick the chicken rolls are. The bigger the roll, the longer it will take to bake. Test one of your thicker rolls at 30 minutes – if the fluid runs clear, that indicates the chicken is cooked. If not, leave it in and check at ~5 minute intervals.
Serve with a salad, scalloped potatoes, blanched veggies – anything you like.