"True wine enthusiasts don’t collect wines.
They collect memories of wines shared with friends and family."

-Dario Zucconi

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Herb-Cheese Stuffed Chicken - "Iron Chef Mario Batali" Style

Stuffed chicken, whole grain orzo pasta, roasted brussels sprouts w/dried Rainier cherries and walnuts
Today's post is short and sweet because. . . well . . . I am a little tired.  But, I wanted to share this amazing dish I made today, which my husband simply described as "delicious . . . there is no better way to describe it."

Today was a very busy Saturday in the Warner household - not unusually! I woke up at 7:30 this morning. My 4-year-old son came in our room to tell me that he just saw a spider in the bathtub when he went potty and that I needed to come kill it.  Patrick and I went to a retreat at our church about "The Grace of Parenthood" at 9:00 a.m.  Then, at 11:00 a.m., I drove my daughter to her ballet class, which ended at 1:00 p.m.  She and I spent an hour in traffic trying to get to my 6-year-old son's first ever soccer game, which was scheduled to begin at 1:15 p.m.  I didn't make it there until 2:00 p.m., but I got to watch him play the second half of the game. I was very proud of him!

But, by 3:00 p.m., I was beat!  Despite a crazy busy Saturday, I wanted to cook something delicious for dinner.  You probably think I am crazy.  Nope! Cooking actually relaxes me. The process of thinking about what I want to make (the recipe), picking out my ingredients, and being in my kitchen alone (with some help from my husband who always offers to help) and actually cooking the meal actually gives me a shot of energy and joy that very few other things do.  It's kind of like an artist or a musician. An artist locks himself or herself up in his or her studio to create something magnificent. A musician would go in his or her studio to think and compose great music.  There is a sense of serenity and joy that they probably get by being in their studios.

Herb-and-Cheese-Filled Chicken Thighs by Mario Batali (Iron Chef)
Anyway, I discovered this recipe for Herb-and-Cheese-Filled Chicken Thighs by Food Network Iron Chef Mario Batali [http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/herb-and-cheese-filled-chicken-thighs].  I love to watch the Iron Chef show.  The recipe looked fairly simple and sounded delicious. So, I decided to make it.  And, as my husband said, it was delicious - definitely one of my top 10 recipes. Here is a the recipe [NOTE: I made my own bread crumbs using toasted fresh Italian bread - fresher and cheaper.]  Check out the "progression" pictures and you'll see what I mean about cooking being like an artist creating a masterpiece or a musician composing a beautiful song. I love it!

Mario Batali's Herb-and-Cheese-Filled Chicken Thighs
Boneless/Skin-on Chicken Thighs - cleaned and seasoned.
1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese (4 1/2 ounces)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup grated Provolone cheese (1 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped basil
1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
16 boneless chicken thighs with skin (about 5 ounces each)
Salt and freshly ground pepper 


Preheat the oven to 450°. In a medium bowl, combine the fresh bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, eggs, Provolone, chopped basil, chopped parsley, lemon zest and rosemary. Set the chicken thighs, skin side down, on a work surface and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Mound 1/4 cup of the herb-and-cheese filling on each thigh. Fold the sides of the thighs over the filling to enclose it and tie each chicken thigh in 2 or 3 places with kitchen string. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
Herb-Cheese Bread Crumb Stuffing
Chicken with herb-cheese filling.

Stuffed and tied chicken
Arrange the stuffed chicken thighs on a large, rimmed baking sheet and roast for about 35 minutes, or until golden brown. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes, then discard the strings and serve. 

Make Ahead: The uncooked, stuffed chicken thighs can be refrigerated overnight. Let them return to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe. 
Notes: For easy clean-up, line the baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil.
Cooking Club Tip: Making your own breadcrumbs is easy. Simply place torn stale bread or toasted bread in the food processor and grind well.

Baked chicken - bubbling out of the oven

As side dishes, I made a simple whole grain orzo pasta. (I actually find whole grain orzo pasta from Berkeley Bowl.  It's great because my kids love orzo.  At least whole grain is a little healthier.)

Roasted brussels sprouts mixed with dried Rainier cherries and toasted walnuts.

I also made some roasted brussels sprouts mixed with dried rainier cherries and toasted walnuts.  For the brussels sprouts, I just steam them (about 1 pound) in a steamer for about 5 minutes. Then, I transfer them to a baking dish.  I then sprinkle them with some extra virgin olive oil, salt, and fresh ground pepper, (and some Herbs de Provence or Italian Seasonings, whatever you have). Then, I stir them to make sure they all get coated. I bake them in a 375-degree oven for about 10-15 minutes (until you get a little bit of dark color in them). Then, I mix in the dried Rainier cherries and the toasted walnuts (about 1/2 cup each).

Right after steaming.
Right after roasting.

Of course, no relaxing evening would be perfect without a glass of wine.  For tonight, we just had a glass of Duckhorn's 2010 Red Wine. It's a meritage blend, which you can get at Safeway or most local wine shop. It's delicious, versatile, and easy to drink.  It paired well with this chicken dish.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Until next time . . . Cheers!


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