Cheesy. Basil. Stuffed. Chicken.
What the recipe title fails to mention is: Golden. Garlic. Basil. Bread. Crumbs. On. Top. Of. The. Chicken. Surrounded. By. Roasted. Juicy. Tomatoes.
Dude. Seriously. If this meal hadn’t been real, I would have dreamed it in my dreams of dinners I want to dream of forever.
Similar in stuffing-technique to this chicken, this relatively simple dish is such a unique and wonderful way to change up chicken dinner night. I served it with this Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower Pasta (oh my!). Perfect. Meal.
I do have to admit that the deliciousness of this meal may have been due, in part, to the fact that my amazing friend, Mariann, was visiting and er, well…she did most of the work. Why is it that food tastes so much better when someone else makes it? I’ll ponder that thought while inhaling the Maple Pumpkin Hazelnut bread (smothered in Nutella…oh yes siree) my sister-in-law just made this very evening while she stays with us for a few days. I swear, I’m not this bad of a hostess all the time. I just can’t pass up the opportunity to beg-slash-guilt someone into making food for me. I hope we can all still be friends.
Note: the chicken breasts called for in this recipe need to be on the thicker side because a pocket is cut into the thickest part of the chicken breasts (similar to this recipe) and the delicious cheese-basil filling is stuffed inside. Thinner chicken breasts won’t work well for that crucial step.
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup minced fresh basil, divided
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- Salt and pepper
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (see note)
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, lowfat or regular
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine the shredded cheese, 2 tablespoons of the minced basil, cream, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
- Cut a pocket in chicken breasts (like in this recipe), stuff with cheese mixture and seal, using a toothpick to help close the slit, if necessary. Transfer the stuffed breasts to 13 by 9 inch baking dish and spread tops evenly with mayonnaise.
- In a medium bowl, combine the bread crumbs, remaining garlic, remaining fresh basil, and one tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle crumb mixture over chicken, pressing lightly to adhere.
- Toss tomatoes with remaining tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Arrange the tomatoes in the baking dish in and around the chicken. Bake until the crumbs are golden brown and the chicken is cooked through (registering 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer) about 25 minutes. Serve immediately.
Make Ahead Instructions: Follow the recipe instructions with the following modifications: unless you are baking right away, don’t preheat the oven until you are ready to bake the dish. Stuff the chicken as stated in the recipe and place them in the baking dish. Combine the bread crumbs, garlic, basil and olive oil and transfer to a small resealable plastic bag or tupperware. Arrange the tomatoes that have been tossed with the oil/salt/pepper around the chicken. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate the chicken and the bread crumb topping separately for up to 10 hours. Before baking, sprinkle the bread crumbs on top of the chicken. Bake as directed, adding an additional 10 minutes, if needed since the dish was refrigerated.
Recipe Source: from Cook’s Country Cookbook: Rediscovering America’s Home Cooking