Chicken Stuffed with Artichokes and Goat Cheese

Welcome to my 100th post!  I decided to do something a little special for the century mark so I invited a friend for dinner and made chicken breasts stuffed with artichokes, shallots and goat cheese; pancetta cups filled with whipped sweet potatoes; and steamed broccoli.  Served with a crisp Pinot Grigio.  It was a ton of fun and much appreciated by a friend who needed a quiet dinner.  We ate on the good dishes in the dining room just to add a little something extra.

No substitutions here, though I did break the cardinal rule of light pan sauces.  I made the chicken in a cast iron pan so the sauce turned out really dark. It still tasted fine.  It’s just missing a truly elegant look.  I’ll admit that I’ve made this chicken before and I enjoy it very much.  This wasn’t my best attempt.  The pan was too hot when I added the chicken so there was a tiny bit of char on the outside.  The inside was juicy and good though.  Earlier in the week I set aside a few  sweet potatoes from the Caribbean Sweet Potatoes dish.  I ran those through the food processor and heated them in the microwave.  Pancetta cups are just slices of pancetta that have been pressed into a muffin cup and baked.  They shrink a little, but still hold their shape.  They’re the perfect receptacle for sweet potatoes.  A little salty, a little pepper, a little creamy sweet.  Yum.  And some broccoli steamed in the microwave to add a green vegetable.

A few notes.  Make sure your knife is very sharp when you cut the pockets into the chicken breasts.  Otherwise you’ll just tear them up.  If you don’t want to do these as stuffed breasts you can always pound the chicken out thin, spread the filling over it and roll it up.  Cook the chicken in a stainless steel saute pan so that your sauce will be a pretty buttery color.  Feel free to use onions instead of shallots, just use a little less because the flavor is stronger.  Feel free to use bacon instead of pancetta.  Just cut the slices in half and line each muffin cup, overlapping the slices.

Good? Definitely.
Easy? Definitely not. Though not impossible.
Good for company? Impressive indeed.
Special shopping? shallots and artichoke hearts

Chicken Stuffed with Artichokes and Goat Cheese

Ingredients

2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
3/4 cup frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and chopped
1/4 cup minced shallots (about 3)
1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled goat or feta cheese
1 teaspoon dried herbes de Provence or thyme, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
4 (4-ounce) skinned, boned chicken breast halves
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Lemon rind strips (optional)

Preparation

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add artichokes and shallots; sauté 4 minutes. Remove from pan; cool. Stir in cheese, 1/2 teaspoon herbes de Provence, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

Cut a horizontal slit through thickest portion of each breast half to form a pocket. Stuff 2 tablespoons artichoke mixture into each pocket.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chicken, and sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; sauté 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan; keep warm. Add 1/2 teaspoon herbes de Provence and broth to pan; bring to a boil. Combine juice and cornstarch; add to broth mixture, stirring with a whisk. Cook 1 minute or until thick. Return chicken to pan; cover and cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Garnish with parsley and lemon strips, if desired.

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