Thursday, February 9, 2012

Fontina and Herb Stuffed Chicken with Mushrooms

Last weekend was my birthday. To celebrate, Robert and I invited some friends over for dinner and drinks. We've done this the past two years and I think I really enjoy the tradition. Some might think that cooking dinner for yourself and guests for your own birthday is a raw deal, but I tend to find it delightful. I love cooking and I love being with friends, this way I get to do both in celebration of my day. It's a win win situation if I've ever seen one.

As I was planning the menu for dinner, Robert's main request was that whatever I made not require me to be stuck in the kitchen cooking when our guests arrived. This proved to be a little challenging as, at the time of the request, it was too late to start a crock pot meal and most chicken dishes and sides I make didn't meet the time constraints I had. The final result was chicken and herb stuffed chicken with mushrooms and the green beans I shared yesterday. The chicken breasts were stuffed and in their pans with the oven heating before our guests arrive and then placed in the oven right when they arrived. It was perfect and the meal was a hit.

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Fontina and Herb Stuffed Chicken with Mushrooms

4 chicken breasts halves
1 wedge fontina cheese
1 tablespoons green peppercorns, crushed
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper
1 8 ounce package baby bella mushrooms
1/2 cup chicken broth, heated

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
If you have a mortar and pestle, place the tablespoon of green peppercorns into the mortar and crush with the pestle. If you don't you can easily crush the peppercorns by placing them in a ziploc bag and rolling a can of vegetables or a rolling pin over the bag to crush.
Transfer the crushed peppercorns into a bowl and add in the garlic, parsley, basil and olive oil. Stir to mix.
Slice the cheese into thin slices and set them aside.
Using a sharp knife, carefully cut a pocket into the chicken so that they lay flat on the cutting board. This will create a pocket.
Place a slice or two of the cheese on one side of the seam and top with a spoonful of the herb mixture.
Fold the other half over and secure with toothpicks and place in a baking dish and repeat with the remaining chicken.
Cut the mushrooms into quarters and place around the chicken breasts in the dish.
Top the chicken and mushrooms with the remaining herb mixture.
Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
While the chicken is baking heat the chicken broth of the stovetop.
After 15 minutes, pour the chicken broth onto the chicken and mushrooms and return to the oven to bake for an additional 20-25 minutes until the mushrooms are tender and the chicken is cooked through, basting with the juices occasionally.
Serve with your favorite vegetable and enjoy.

Source: Adapted from the Williams Sonoma Cooking at Home cookbook

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