Week 1, Day 2 of My Eating Well Challenge. On my way home to cook dinner, I was wondering why I chose this recipe. It’s not as if it’s anything very remarkable. Stuffing chicken breasts is something one learns the first week of culinary school, or about once-a-week on the Food Network or PBS cooking shows. Maybe it was because it had ham and cheese. Maybe because I wanted to see what EatingWell.com would do to make this frequently fat-laden dish not so fat-laden. In any event, I’m glad I made it, since it tastes indulgent and makes a great presentation.
One wouldn’t think that sauteing a breaded chicken breast in just a teaspoon of oil in a nonstick pan, and then finishing it in the oven, would create such a beautiful crispy crust, but it does, and the chicken stays juicy. There’s not much cheese filling (the photo on their website, which I only saw after I had made the dish, is a little misleading), but the flavor of the ham and mustard is so intense, it tastes like just the right amount.
The only issue I had, as with the previous day’s recipe, was salt. If you wish to leave it out for dietary reasons, that’s fine. However, I’d suggest putting at least a half teaspoon to a teaspoon of salt into your breadcrumbs. For the crumbs I used three slices of whole wheat sandwich bread pulsed in the food processor with the salt. Next time I might take the opportunity to add some dried herbs, a bit of garlic powder, or paprika to the crumbs.
1/4 cup grated Swiss, Monterey Jack or part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons chopped ham
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, (1-1 1/4 pounds total)
1 egg white
1/2 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Use a baking sheet with sides and lightly coat it with cooking spray.
2. Mix cheese, ham, mustard and pepper in a small bowl.
3. Cut a horizontal slit along the thin, long edge of a chicken breast half, nearly through to the opposite side. Open up the breast and place one-fourth of the filling in the center. Close the breast over the filling, pressing the edges firmly together to seal. Repeat with the remaining chicken breasts and filling.
4. Lightly beat egg white with a fork in a medium bowl. Place breadcrumbs in a shallow glass dish. Hold each chicken breast half together and dip in egg white, then dredge in breadcrumbs. (Discard leftovers.)
5. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts; cook until browned on one side, about 2 minutes. Place the chicken, browned-side up, on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the chicken is no longer pink in the center or until an instant-read thermometer registers 170°F, about 20 minutes.
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