We have been trying all sorts of new recipes with the Basil Pesto that we made this summer. One of our favorites has been this Pesto Stuffed Chicken, adapted from Kayln’s Kitchen. Everyone loves it except BigA, who hates cheese in all of its varieties. But I make a cheese-less version for her, and while I think her version seems pretty dry, she is happy with it. This can be prepared with either homemade or purchased pesto. If you do buy it from a store, I recommend draining off some of the oil on top before using it.
The following recipe is for 6 large chicken breasts, but it can easily be adapted for fewer (or more) servings. To begin, the chicken breasts need to be thin so that they will be easier to roll and will cook evenly. The 4 chicken breasts that I used were extremely large, so I just cut through them cross-wise, giving me 8 pieces of chicken. With normal-sized chicken breasts, I flatten them in a large ziploc bag. Place the chicken (one at a time) in the bag; leave the zipper end open (so your bag doesn’t explode) and pound the chicken with a mallet on the back side until it is uniformly thin.
The pesto stuffing is a mix of prepared pesto, sour cream and grated cheese (mozzarella, Monterey Jack and Swiss all work well).
Spread pesto mix on the ragged side of the pounded chicken breasts. Roll up each piece, beginning at the widest end. Secure each chicken roll with a toothpick or two. Place chicken rolls in a greased 9×13″ pan or a large casserole dish.
This recipe has a simple Parmesan cheese coating. It is too much work for me to individually dip each chicken roll in egg and then cheese, and I have found that it doesn’t really make it any tastier (or prettier), and I often end up wasting cheese. So now I just brush the chicken rolls (while they are in the pan) with an egg wash and then sprinkle shredded Parmesan over each one. And add a little Parsley for color.
Pour a small amount of chicken broth (about 1/2 cup) in the bottom of the pan. I try to use a low-sodium chicken broth, or else it ends up overly salty with all of the Parmesan. Cover with foil and bake at 375°F for 30 minutes. Then increase temperature to 425°F, uncover, and bake 15-20 minutes longer, until nicely browned and cooked through.
You can strain the drippings and make a sauce, but we prefer to just spoon the cheese and pesto laden drippings over our chicken (and vegetables and rice/couscous/noodles).
Pesto Stuffed Chicken (Adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen)
6 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup prepared pesto
1 cup grated cheese (Mozzarella, Swiss or Monterey Jack)
1/3 cup sour cream
1 egg + 1 tsp water, mixed
about 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 Tbs chopped parsley
1/2 cup chicken broth (low sodium, or slightly diluted with water)
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Pound chicken into thin, flat pieces: Place the chicken breasts (one at a time) in a large Ziploc bag; leave the zipper end open (so your bag doesn’t explode) and pound the chicken with a mallet on the back side until it is uniformly thin. If your chicken breasts are really large, you can cut them in half crosswise and then pound, if necessary.
In a small bowl combine pesto, sour cream and mozzarella (or Swiss or Monterey Jack) cheese. Spread each chicken breast with about 2 Tbs of the pesto mixture. Roll up each piece of chicken, beginning with the widest end. Secure with toothpicks. Place chicken rolls in a greased 9×13″ pan or casserole dish.
Mix egg and water. Brush over chicken rolls. Sprinkle with shredded Parmesan. Sprinkle with parsley. Pour the chicken broth into the bottom of the pan (but not over the chicken rolls). Cover with foil and bake at 375°F for 30 minutes.
Increase oven temperature to 425°F, uncover chicken and bake 15-20 minutes longer, until chicken is nicely browned and cooked through.
Serve with drippings from the bottom of the pan.