The timer on the oven buzzes. I move my 20 month old off my lap, stand up, trip over a firetruck and head to the stove. I open the door and pull out the baking dish. Insert meat thermometer. 165 degrees. Perfect. Move the chicken to the cutting board. Begin cutting the kids’ chicken. Crash. Splash. Scream. The 20 month old just exploded his sippy cup of milk. It’s all over the floor. He’s screaming. Leave chicken on the counter. Get paper towels. Push the dog away from the milk and begin cleaning the floor as it continues to drip from the chair. Get more paper towels. Push the dog out of the way again. Continue cleaning up the milk. Clean up dog slobber. Console the screaming 20 month old. My three year old urgently needs a different hoodie. Right. Now. Refill the sippy cup of milk. Finish cutting the boys’ chicken. Seat the boys for dinner. Begin cutting my piece of chicken. The three year old just finished his milk and threw his empty cup on the floor. He burps. The 20 month old is yelling Look, Mommy, Look! He’s forked his chicken and a large clump of couscous. He’s very proud. So am I. Finish cutting my piece of chicken. The phone is ringing. I don’t pick up. Place a scoop of couscous on my plate. Plate the chicken. Bring it to the table. Oops. Forgot the balsamic. Drizzle with balsamic glaze. Pick up my camera. Take the picture. Fifteen minutes after I took the chicken out of the oven. My food is cold. So much for getting the shot while the food is fresh.
Tonight’s dinner is a pantry meal. Well, technically most of the ingredients came out of the fridge, but they were all there. I didn’t need to purchase a single item. The idea struck me earlier in the week when I saw a picture of a chicken breast, stuffed with something that I had assumed were dates. It turned out to be olive tapenade; not dates at all. But, the idea of chicken stuffed with dates stuck with me. Then, I remembered that I had dried figs in the fridge, leftover from the salad I made a couple weeks ago. And I had goat cheese from this week’s strawberry salad and prosciutto from the vodka sauce and walnuts from the chicken salad. Ooooh! This was getting good. I’ve almost always got chicken in the freezer. Stuff all those yummy things in the chicken. Pop it in the oven. Voila! Dinner!
You can adapt this recipe with whatever you’ve got on hand. Sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olive tapenade, dates, roasted red peppers, any type of cheese, ham, and bacon would all make delicious stuffings! The possibilities are infinite. Odds are you’ve got something in your fridge or pantry that would work wonderfully
Stuffed Chicken Breast – Pantry Meal Style
- Chicken Breasts
- Balsamic Glaze*
- Salt and Pepper
For the stuffing:
- Prosciutto, chopped
- Goat Cheese, crumbled
- Dried Figs, chopped
- Walnuts, chopped
* You can purchase balsamic glaze or make your own. Simply pour some balsamic vinegar into a small pot and simmer until it has reduced by at least half.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place chicken breasts in a ziploc bag or between two pieces of wax paper or plastic wrap. Pound the chicken with a mallet (or heavy pan) until flattened to about 1/4 inch thick. Place a mound of the stuffing on the chicken, closer to one side. Starting with the end that has the stuffing, roll the chicken. Tuck in the ends and secure with toothpicks, if necessary. Season with salt and pepper.
Place on a baking dish and cook until completely cooked through, about 25-35 minutes. A instant-read meat thermometer, inserted into the middle of the chicken, should read 165 degrees.
Drizzle with balsamic glaze. Serve with rice or couscous.