One of the best ways to jazz up boneless, skinless chicken breasts is to stuff them. Here, that stuffing is a mixture of tangy goat cheese, peppery arugula, and fresh-tasting lemon zest. The mixture seasons the chicken from the inside out and melts beautifully as the chicken cooks, providing a touch of flavorful creaminess with every bite.
The simple pan sauce that finishes the dish is one that can be used anytime you cook meat in a pan. You'll make it by deglazing the pan with wine, a technique every cook should have in his or her back pocket.
Stuffing chicken breasts looks harder than it is. Using a knife, cut a small pocket into the side of the breast, making sure that you cut from top to bottom so that the pocket is large enough to stuff. Stuffing gives the chicken a lot of flavor and moisture, so try lots of variations. I like olive tapenade, sun-dried tomato tapenade, mashed feta with olives and oregano, and wilted chopped spinach and fontina.
Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Goat Cheese, Arugula & Lemon
- 5 ounces fresh goat cheese
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2⁄3 cup chopped fresh arugula
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
- Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, about 6 ounces each
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
- In a small bowl, mash together the goat cheese and milk until smooth. Add the garlic, arugula, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- On the thickest side of each chicken breast, cut a deep, 3-inch-long pocket. (Be sure you don’t cut through the other side of the breast.) Using your fingers, stuff the goat cheese mixture into each pocket. Close by pressing the flesh together and secure with a toothpick, if necessary.
- In a large frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Have ready a lid that is too small for the pan but that will cover the breasts. Cook the chicken on one side, uncovered, until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn the breasts, season with salt and pepper, and set the small lid on top of the chicken in the pan. Continue to cook until the chicken is cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes more.
- Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Pour the wine into the pan and scrape up the flavorful brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Cook over medium heat until the wine has reduced by about half, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the sauce is reduced to a glossy syrup, 2 to 3 minutes. Drizzle the reduction over the chicken and serve.