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Cheese, mushrooms elevate chicken

Chicken again? It’s a phrase often repeated. Sure there are the standards: chicken on the grill, chicken in a stir fry, chicken with cream of mushroom soup.

I am always looking for new ways to prepare chicken. Boneless, skinless chicken breast is a staple for many. But, let’s face it, it can be boring.

Chicken recipes are one recipe category that I come across a lot on Facebook.

You know the videos with the upbeat music, beautiful photos, that build up your cooking confidence. Well some of those recipes don’t always turn out the way

Susan Selasky/TNS
Stuffed with cheese and mushrooms, a boneless, skinless chicken breast is elevated to another level.

they are supposed to. And that’s not exactly a bad thing. Recipes should be looked at as a guide; you can always develop your own twist on a recipe.

And so, that’s what I did with today’s recipe. After watching the video I knew it was something I would like. Armed with some leftover ingredients from recipe testing and always, always, having chicken breast tucked away in the freezer, I set out to try this recipe.

If you love mushrooms as much as I do and cheese – who doesn’t love cheese – and lots of sauce with any dish, this recipe is for you.

It can be a little confusing when buying mushrooms. There are so many varieties. But the white, cremini (brown) and portabella mushrooms are most common. I used baby bella (brown) mushrooms which are also referred to as cremini mushrooms in this recipe because I think they have a heartier flavor than the white cultivated mushroom. Cremini’s are my go-to mushroom no matter what the recipe is. And most of the time, you’ll find that they are uniform in shape and size.

The recipe also listed the sauce as optional, but it shouldn’t be. While the stuffed chicken is good on its own, the sauce is a real treat.

MUSHROOM AND CHEESE STUFFED CHICKEN BREASTS

Serves: 4 (generously)

MUSHROOMS:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

CHICKEN:

4 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon dried parsley

8 slices fresh or regular mozzarella cheese

¼ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

GARLIC PARMESAN CREAM SAUCE:

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1½ cups half and half or heavy whipping cream

½ cup finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

½ teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 2 teaspoons of water, optional

2 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large oven proof skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms, parsley and season with salt and pepper. Cook while stirring occasionally until mushrooms are soft. Set aside and allow to cool while preparing the chicken.

Pat breasts dry with a paper towel. Season with salt, pepper, onion powder and dried parsley. Rub each piece to evenly coat in seasoning.

Carefully, horizontally slice a slit through the thickest part of each breast to form a deep pocket without cutting all the way through. Place 2 slices of mozzarella into each breast pocket.

Divide the mushroom mixture into four equal portions and fill each breast with the mushroom mixture. Reserve any mushrooms that don’t fit in. Top the mushroom mixture with 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese per breast. Seal with two or three toothpicks near the opening to keep the mushrooms inside while cooking.

Heat the same pan the mushrooms were cooked in along with the pan juices over medium heat. Add the chicken and sear until golden. Flip and sear on the other side until golden. Cover pan and continue cooking in preheated oven for 20 minutes more, or until the chicken is completely cooked through. Remove from oven and transfer chicken to a plate, cover to keep warm while you make the sauce.

In the same skillet, add the garlic and sauté about 30 seconds. Reduce heat to low heat, and add the mustard and half and half or heavy cream.

Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and add in any remaining mushrooms and Parmesan cheese. Allow the sauce to simmer until the Parmesan cheese has melted slightly. For a thicker sauce stir in the cornstarch/water mixture and continue to cook a few minutes more.

Season with a little salt and pepper to your taste. Add the parsley and the chicken back into the pan to serve.

Serve the chicken with the cream sauce (or with pan juices and any remaining mushrooms if you didn’t make the sauce) with pasta, rice or steamed vegetables.

– Adapted from www.cafedelites.com.

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