My plan to use asparagus as a side was doomed from the start as there were only 12 spears of asparagus to use; using it to stuff the chicken, along with some Brie ended up being the delicious answer to that problem. As for side vegetables? I made salad, using the last of the mixed greens, the grapefruit, pecans and a Balsamic vinaigrette that was in the fridge.
This chicken was simple to make, easy to cook, and very moist and juicy, thanks to the Brie. The chicken juices and bits of melted Brie in the pan provided us with a tasty sauce.
While the chicken was baking, I prepared the salad, so everything was ready to go in less than an hour...this includes stuffing the chicken!
Start off by pre-heating the oven to 350F.
Prepare the stuffing ingredients:
12 spears asparagus, tough end snapped off
9 basil leaves
3 thin slices of Brie
Cut the chicken breasts in half, without cutting right through, forming a pocket as shown.
I used 3 breasts, 1 per person.
Lightly season the inside of the pocket with salt and pepper.
Lay 3 basil leaves on one side of the pocket.
Lay a piece of Brie on top of the basil leaves.
Lay the asparagus on top of the Brie, tucking the ends into the uncut end of the pocket if needed.
The tips will overhang the end of the chicken a bit, and crisp up as they roast.
Fold the chicken breast over, tucking the filling in as you close the pocket.
Use a toothpick to secure the side.
Lightly season the chicken breast with salt and pepper.
Using a hot pan that can be placed directly into the oven, and some olive oil, quickly brown the skin side of the chicken breast.
Turn the chicken over and place the pan directly into the oven.
Bake until the chicken is cooked through; this took about 20 - 25 minutes.
The Brie will melt, and some of it will leak out and combine with the chicken juices, to form a simple pan sauce.
Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes before cutting in half, and serving. I served it with salad; any starch and vegetables will be good with this tender, moist and flavourful chicken.
- This recipe can easily be multiplied or divided, as the stuffing is based on a pieces per chicken breast ratio.
- When using fresh asparagus, gently bend the spear and it will naturally snap where the tender portion with the tip meets the tougher portion. The tougher portion can still be used...thinly sliced and blanched, it can be added to salads, pasta or risotto.
- I had a piece of Brie to use, but other cheeses that would work well are smoked white cheddar, bocconcini, Havarti, Provolone or Swiss cheese.
- Feel free to use other fresh herbs, just be sure that they are tender enough to eat once they are cooked. If you use thyme, it would be a good idea to strip the leaves from the stems. The same goes for rosemary. Oregano, sage or parsley will work as they are as the leaves are larger and tender.
- Other things to consider stuffing the chicken with are sundried tomatoes, thinly sliced; artichoke hearts, thinly sliced; fresh or roasted red pepper; prosciutto or ham.
- If you want to make more sauce, remove the chicken breasts from the pan to rest, and add some chicken stock to the pan. Bring it to a boil and let it simmer for a few minutes to reduce a bit.
- Whipping cream can also be added to the sauce, if you want to make a cream sauce. I feel that the Brie is rich enough, but that's a personal choice.
- The chicken breasts can be stuffed a few hours ahead, or even a day ahead, and kept well wrapped in the fridge until it is time to cook them.
- The chicken can be seared on the grill before being placed in the oven if you like. This was my original plan, but weather forced me to do it all indoors.
- Other meats can be stuffed the same way...pork tenderloin, cut into individual sized pieces before stuffing; turkey breast which can then be sliced to serve, displaying the stuffing nicely; thinner fish fillets such as sole ( see the post Sole Fillets with Asparagus, Grape Tomatoes and Avocado).