Sunday, January 22, 2006

Mushroom & Chèvre Stuffed Chicken

When DH & I went shopping a couple days ago, he wouldn't let me pick up the pork tenderloin I wanted for Johannah's Roasted Garlic & Chèvre Pork Tenderloin because he wanted me to use up the fresh chicken thighs sitting in our fridge. I had a craving to do something stuffed with goat cheese, so I checked out and searched for recipes containing Chicken and Goat cheese, but not tomatoes. I found Mushroom-Stuffed Chicken Breasts in a Balsamic Pan Sauce by USA Weekend columnist Pam Anderson. I thought it looked pretty decent, but it didn't have any reviews - I love reading the reviews for suggestions - and I didn't have half of the ingredients...

DH has this thing about not wanting me to buy stuff unless I have an immediate use for it. Now, that's a good practice... if you own a car. We can't just make a quick trip out to the grocery store to pick up that ingredient we need for dinner... We have to plan in advance - borrow our parents' car, or lug heavy groceries around in our backpacks on the bus...

I have this crazy idea that if something can be kept indefinitely, we have the storage space, it's not crazy expensive, doesn't seem like the kind of thing that goes on sale, and I can see myself using it in the next 6 months, regardless of whether or not I have a specific date and recipe for it, then we should pick it up. That way, it's on hand for when I need it. I'm not in the habit yet of planning meals ahead of time, which means that if I don't have what I need to make something, it doesn't get made.

You'll note that the recipe says "Balsamic Pan Suace". A while ago, DH & I went grocery shopping. I picked out a bottle of Balsamic vinegar, and put it in the cart. DH asked me what I needed that for, and said if I didn't need it right away, then I should put it back, "Honestly, do you see yourself ever using that?"

Now here's what annoys me the most - I couldn't remember if I had put it back. This happens rather frequently; sometimes I agree with him, and others times...

Apparently, I had conceded, because we didn't have an ounce of Balsamic vinegar in the house. -all we had was Sherry vinegar. I have no clue what the difference between vinegars is, so, of course, I Googled it (see a recurring pattern forming here?). I couldn't find what I was looking for as fast as I wanted to, so I decided to go for it anyway. I had to tweak the recipe a bit anyway because we didn't have dried mushrooms, I don't have a kitchen scale (well, we do, but DH thought I'd never use it, so it's in storage), we were using chicken thighs instead of breasts, and I prefer using whole wheat flour instead of corn starch for making gravy. Oh, and DH commented previously that goat cheese tasted "too goaty", and he doesn't like strong mushrooms...

Here's what I ended up with:

Mushroom & Chèvre Stuffed Chicken
Serves 4-5

2 'glugs' Olive Oil
8 large cloves of Garlic (it really mellows, so don't worry)
1 package of large White Mushrooms
1.5t Ground Thyme
2 'logs' of Soft Unripened Goat Cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste

1/4c Honey
1/4c Balsamic Vinegar (ideally, but I used Sherry Vinegar, and it turned out nicely)

8 Skin-on Chicken thighs OR 4 Skin-on, Boneless Chicken Breasts, trimmed of excess fat

1/2c Water
1/4c Whole Wheat Flour

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 425F.
1. Trim mushrooms stems and chop mushrooms finely. Combine with crush garlic, thyme, salt & pepper.
2. Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushroom mixture; saute until nearly all moisture has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn off heat, stir in cheese. Set aside.
3. Debone chicken, leaving skin intact. Push fingers under skin to make a pocket; stuff with mushroom mixture. Arrange in a casserole dish.
4. Combine honey & vinegar in a small bowl (microwave to melt honey if neccessary). Brush mixture over stuffed chicken.

Here's where I had trouble. Well before the chicken was ready, the chicken skins burnt where they had been stuffed . I think I should have covered the chicken for the first half hour, and then uncovered for the last 5-10 minutes?

5. Roast until golden brown, adding water if necessary to keep pan drippings from burning, until a meat thermometer registers 160 degrees in the thickest portion of the largest piece, 30 to 45 minutes. Transfer chicken to a platter.
6. In a small saucepan, whisk water with flour. Scrape pan juices into saucepan. Whisking constantly, bring to a simmer; continue to simmer until it thickens a bit.
7. Arange stuffed chicken on plates and drizzle with sauce.

Serve with wild rice and green vegetables.

DH said that not only was the goat cheese not too "goaty", but also that the mushrooms weren't too strong either. I think the extra garlic and thyme worked well.

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