Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Blue Cheese, Walnuts Take Chicken to Another Level

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Blue Cheese, Walnuts Take Chicken to Another Level

Article excerpt

A dish that comes together quickly can not only look pretty, but wow in the flavor department as well. That is, if you don't overcook the chicken.

But here's my tip for getting moist boneless, skinless chicken breasts: Sear first, then bake them. To do this, it's a good idea to use a skillet that's not nonstick but is ovenproof. You'll get a better sear on the chicken if it's not nonstick. First, sear the chicken in the ovenproof skillet and then transfer it to a preheated oven to finish the cooking. Set your timer for about 8 minutes (for a chicken breast that's about {-inch thick end to end). The chicken turns out tender and juicy.

If you don't have an ovenproof skillet, use whatever skillet you have on hand and have ready a small glass pan. Once the chicken is seared, transfer it to a glass baking pan, scraping all the pan juices into the dish. As the chicken cooks in the oven it will create more juices. When the chicken is done, a delicious pan sauce can be made with those juices or pan drippings. You won't have a lot of the sauce, but it's full-flavored and small amount goes a long way. If you want more sauce, double up on the chicken stock and add an extra tablespoon or more of lemon juice to taste.

In addition to a brightly flavored pan sauce, this dish gets a tangy flavor from blue cheese. In this recipe, only 1 tablespoon is used per serving, but you can use more if you like. You also can substitute an herbed goat cheese.

Another impressive flavor in this dish comes from the walnuts, which, like many other nuts, are pricey ingredients. One way to amp up their flavor is to toast them. Toasting the walnuts 6 to 8 minutes intensifies their flavor. And they look nice scattered over the chicken.

Serve this dish with a side of rice or couscous. I like to cook the rice with half chicken broth and half water. It also amps the flavor of the rice. Using a fragrant rice, such as basmati, lends another flavorful element to this dish. Basmati, when it's cooking, has a popcorn or nutty aroma that will make your guests wonder what's cooking.

BLUE CHEESE STUFFED CHICKEN BREASTS

Serves: 4 / Preparation time: 10 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

We adapted this recipe from Food & Wine magazine, substituting blue cheese for goat cheese. …

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