There. I said it. I don't get what's so good about goopy, soggy bread, a bunch of onions and vegetables-- maybe oysters, or nuts... slathered with gravy. Every year, I take a bite and I'm still not impressed. But, I'm in the minority-- I know. My men devour stuffing with great relish. More for them!
Pass me the mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, and I'm happy. I'm sorry. I just can't get excited about stuffing!
Until, a couple weeks ago-- I saw a recipe for "Apple Stuffed Chicken Breasts", on Mel's Kitchen. I looked at the bowl of apples that I keep stocked for lunches, and realized that apples would make a good pairing with chicken. I had chicken breasts, waiting to become dinner. Then it hit me-- I have lots of fresh French tarragon in our herb garden, and I decided this would compliment the chicken (parsley or sage would work, too). The next thing I knew, I grabbed some shallots, for extra flavor and I preheated the oven to 425F.
I admit that any kind of measuring, flew out the window. I eyeballed about 1 cup of grated Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese.
One peeled and sliced apple went into the bowl, and about one cup of breadcrumbs, and a little garlic salt.
After cutting a slit into the boneless chicken breast, I began to cram the stuffing in.
Then I pondered, how to keep all this stuffing from falling out...
..and I grabbed the kitchen twine and problem solved!
I much prefer to sear and roast my meats, whenever possible. This method has proved succesful for me, in that my meats remain moist. After seasoning each breast with coarse salt & pepper, I seared each chicken breast in a bit of olive oil, in an oven-proof skillet.
Then, I flipped them over and put them into a preheated 425F oven, for about 25 minutes (or until the chicken is at 160F).
I removed the chicken breasts, set them on a plate and loosely covered them with foil.
The pan sauce I made, turned out to be one of my best ones yet! I started by deglazing the pan with some apple cider, then I added a splash of white wine. This is Boiled Cider, and I buy it from King Arthur Flour. The boiled cider really brings out the flavor in apple pie, and I'm finding it works great in so many recipes. I added a "splash" (about 2 Tablespoons), and about 1 cup of chicken stock. Then, I let it reduce to about half-- about 7-8 minutes, on medium-high heat.
The aroma of this dinner cooking brought my husband out of his office, and anxiously waiting for dinner.
The pan sauce was truly one of my best-- the sweetness of the apple cider, and a splash of acidity from the white wine-- perfection!
TASTING NOTES: This is a stuffing I learned to love, at first bite. Melted cheese and apples is a terrific combination. The shallots and the mild anise flavor, of the tarragon, added a lovely savory element to the sauce. My husband loved this dinner, and I have to say that I did, too. The next time I make this, I think I'll butterfly the chicken so I can add a lot more stuffing, then roll it, and tie it with kitchen twine. These could easily be prepared in advance, and then cooked when company arrives. This recipe is a keeper. I promise you.
Who says that chicken gets boring? Not this way! I pretty much changed around the original recipe, but I still thank Mel's Kitchen for inspiring me to stuff chicken with apples and cheese--brilliant!
A printable recipe card is at the end of this post. If you can't view it, click here.