November 9, 2009

Mushroom Leek Stuffed Chicken and Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Ahh, a needlessly complicated dinner. Best undertaken when you're cooking alone, starting late, and really hungry, right? No, wait...

My self-made quickfire challenge last night was a menu of crispy roast potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts, and mushroom leek stuffed chicken breast. And while I can say the chicken and Brussels sprouts were worth the wait, the potatoes were not.

I just finished reading Ruth Reichl's Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise, the then NY Times restaurant critic's memoir of her anonymous dining experiences. Reichl's writing style is very personal and I highly recommend her book, with the warning that it will probably make you want to go out and eat in New York City. Reichl is also a cook and her book is sprinkled with inspiring recipes. While this Brussels sprouts treatment may sound simple, it allows the sweetness of the baby cabbages to shine, and who can resist vegetables and bacon?

Slice Brussels sprouts in half, dice thick cut bacon (raw), and toss all together in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in 400 degree F oven until sprouts are caramelized, about 20 minutes.

The chicken is a bit more complicated, however. The recipe is from Cook's Illustrated, and my only complaints are that I overcooked the chicken and reduced the sauce too much so it was pretty salty. So beware those user errors.

Stuffed Chicken Breasts
(adapted from Cook's Illustrated to serve 1)

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
4 white mushrooms, sliced
1 small leek, white part only, halved and sliced
3 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
half of one lemon, juiced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 thyme sprigs, de-leafed
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
cooking twine, 3 lengths, 12" long

To prepare chicken:
Butterfly chicken breast, spread flat and pound with a meat pounder until 1/4" thick. Trim breast until chicken is square, and save excess chicken. Place into a food processor or dice finely.

To prepare stuffing:
Heat 1 T. of oil in skillet over medium heat. Saute mushrooms until all moisture is evaporated and mushrooms are golden brown, about 11 to 15 minutes. Add chopped leeks and saute until softened, 3 minutes. Add garlic, and saute a few minutes more. Add half the lemon juice, thyme, and salt and pepper. Remove from heat and finely dice mixture or combine with reserved diced chicken in food processor. Pulse in food processor. Use wine and chicken stock to deglaze empty skillet and set aside.

To stuff and cook chicken:
Spread stuffing mixture 1/4" thick on butterflied chicken breast, leaving 1/2" border. Roll chicken up tightly, and secure with three lengths of cooking twine. Salt and pepper chicken. Heat skillet and remaining oil over medium-high heat, until smoking. Brown chicken about 2 minutes on all sides. Add stock and wine, bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook 12 to 15 minutes, until internal tempature reads 160 degress F. The stuffing contains raw chicken, so care should be taken to ensure fully cooked.

Phew, tired yet? Remove chicken to rest, and prepare the pan sauce. Add mustard, extra thyme, a squeeze of lemon juice, and salt and pepper to pan sauce. Reduce until thickened (but not too thick!). Carefully cut twine on chicken, cut on the bias, and serve topped with pan sauce.

Eat and then go take a nap.