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Friday, November 26, 2010

Chicken Roulade with Cranberry-Fig Stuffing

As promised in the Gingerbread Cupcakes post, here is the rest of our Thanksgiving Dinner. I had originally decided to do a Turkey Roulade, but the dearth of turkey breasts in the store forced me to change my mind. Instead I used chicken breast and was very pleased with the result.

The stuffing features dried cranberries and figs soaked in Calvados, an apple flavored brandy. Hot and sweet Italian sausage along with Herbs de Provence and red and white onion and celery add even more flavor. The stuffing is wrapped in the chicken breast then lightly browned in the skillet before being transferred to the oven to finish baking. Excess stuffing can be placed in a pan to cook alongside the roulade.

I found that the stuffing was even better on the second day, so you might want to make this a day ahead and stick it in the refrigerator overnight for an even richer taste.

This was served with steamed asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes.

4 boneless-skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup large-diced dried figs, stems removed
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup Calvados
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups diced onions
1 cup (1/2-inch-diced) celery (3 stalks)
3/4 pound pork sausage, casings removed (sweet and hot mixed)
1 1/2 tablespoons Herbs de Provence
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
3 cups herb-seasoned stuffing mix (Pepperidge Farm)
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 extra-large egg, beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Place the dried figs and cranberries in a small saucepan and pour in the Calvados and 1/2 cup water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then lower the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage, crumbling it into small bits with a fork, and saute, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, until cooked and browned. Add the figs and cranberries with the liquid, the chopped rosemary, and pine nuts, and cook for 2 more minutes. Scrape up the brown bits with a wooden spoon.

Place the stuffing mix in a large bowl. Add the sausage mixture, chicken stock, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and stir well.

Preheat the oven to 325°. Place a baking rack on a sheet pan.

Flatten the chicken breast between two sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper until uniform in thickness. Sprinkle the meat with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Spread the stuffing in a thin layer over the meat, leaving a half-inch border on all sides. Don't mound the stuffing or the chicken will be difficult to roll. Starting at 1 end, roll the chicken like a jelly roll and tuck in any stuffing that tries to escape on the sides. Tie the roast firmly with kitchen twine to make a compact cylinder. Repeat with remaining breasts.

Place stuffed chicken breast in large skillet over medium heat and brown on all sides. Set aside on plate and repeat with other breasts. Place the stuffed chicken breasts seam side down on the rack on the sheet pan. Brush with the melted butter, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and roast for 40-60 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer registers 150° in the center. Cover the breasts with aluminum foil and allow to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Carve 1/2-inch-thick slices and serve warm with the extra stuffing.

Extra stuffing may be placed in a baking dish or gratin pan and cooked alongside the chicken.

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