I have come to accept that I really really don’t like saying the word breast and, perhaps for that reason, chicken breasts are always known as ‘beasts’ in our house. But beasts on their own can be a bit dull, dry and almost like a job-of-work to get through, I find. Stuffed beasts, however, open a doorway to an exciting new world of gorgeous beastliness. But I had forgotten the joy they can bring until the other night, when our supermarket delivery turned up without the legs’n’thighs I had ordered and chicken fillets instead. Since we were marooned in the middle of Suffolk, we had to make do.
As luck would have it, we also had some parma ham to wrap them in which is quite crucial to this concept, if you want to stuff each beast so full that the filling is bursting out and needs containing (just to clarify, that is exactly what you want to do).
And the good thing about these is that the filling can consist, pretty much, of whatever blitz-able stuff you happen to have in your fridge or cupboard. With this in mind I try always to have a jar of M&S artichokes, which have no added sugar, and which are good for this (as well as antipasti and salads). I have gone down the sun-dried tomatoes. basil and cheese route which works very well too. I’m sure there are as-yet-undiscovered options and I will of course keep you posted.
You can serve these with whatever you like but a dollop of home-made mayo and a green salad with a really mustardy dressing is a pretty good bet.
Stuffed beasts (serves 2-4 depending on greed levels)
4 chicken breast fillets
parma ham (allow 2 pieces per fillet)
1/2 to 3/4 jar artichokes
large chunk cheddar or smoked cheddar or gruyere (to taste)
handful of mushrooms
2 spring onions
3 cloves garlic
Sorry to say that this really is so much easier If you have a food processor BUT I have done it by hand in the absence of one – it is just a bit more laborious.
Put the oven on to 200 and then put all the ingredients (bar the chicken and parma ham) into your food processor and blitz into a very fine paste.
Use a very sharp knife to cut a slit lengthways across each chicken fillet then scoop a couple of spoons of the filling inside. It will try to fall out but don’t let it! Then firmly bind each stuffed fillet with two slices of parma ham wrapped side-by-side. It’s easiest to complete the whole process one-by-one.
Put a liberal splash of oil into a roasting pan then baste either side of each wrapped chicken in the oil and cook for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of your beasts.
Serve with whatever veg/salad/mayo combo floats your boat.