Monday, January 11, 2010

Chicken 'Panini' with Basil, Goat Cheese, and Sun Dried Tomatoes

Does it get any more delicious than basil, sun dried tomatoes, and goat cheese? I think not.

Does it get any simpler than stuffing a chicken cutlet with the above ingredients, folding it in half and throwing it in the oven? Nope. You know where to send my fan mail...

I also love this recipe because you get to play surgeon, pinning the little cutlets closed with toothpicks. As you can see from the above picture, it was a blessing in disguise that I nearly failed out of nursing school and decamped to advertising. Oh, all the people's lives I've saved by not becoming a nurse...

Chicken 'Panini' with Basil, Goat Cheese, and Sun Dried Tomatoes

2 heaping tablespoons goat cheese, divided
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
8-10 sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained, divided
10 fresh basil leaves, divided
salt and pepper, for seasoning
12-16 toothpicks, for surgery

Preheat oven to 375.

Give your cutlets a little pounding with a mallet or frying pan until they're roughly the same thickness all over and provide enough surface area for piling on the ingredients and folding over. You don't need them overly thin - just roughly 1/4 inch or so to knock the stubborn out of them. For each breast, spread 1 tablespoon of the goat cheese down the center, breaking up and scattering with your fingers, stopping a good quarter inch from each end to prevent leakage.

Then scatter over the mozzarella the same way (how much you can sprinkle depends on the size of your breasts - don't overwhelm a small cutlet or it will all just ooze out - again you should be able to fold it over. For an average cutlet, I can usually get 2 tablespoons.) Then add your basil leaves (about 4-5 per breast) slightly overlapping in a line down the center over the cheese. Finally, weigh the basil down with the sun dried tomatoes - I can usually get 4-5 per cutlet but again this varies. Carefully but sternly fold the chicken over the stuffing, poking any runaways back in with your fingers.

Transfer to an aluminum lined, greased baking sheet, then use the tops with salt and pepper. Carefully secure them by applying the toothpicks at an angle all around the edges. Place in the oven and bake 22-25 minutes, just until the chicken is cooked through and any leaked cheese/drippings that have collected in the pan have turned a deep bronze. Let cool for 3 minutes before serving and slicing.

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