When you get home from work late after a stressful day in the office the last thing you want to do is spend an hour or two in the kitchen. Stephanie Smith of Changing Tides Gifts has a great idea for such an occasion, "Spinach and feta stuffed chicken breasts wrapped in bacon" she says, take "five minutes to make and half an hour to bake. 35 minutes, quick and easy, and you have yourself a great entrée."
In the video, Smith simply mixes up frozen spinach, which she has heated in the microwave, with feta cheese, garlic, pepper and some mayonnaise to help bind the mix. She then demonstrates how to cut a pocket in the chicken breast, fills the pocket with the spinach and feta mix and wraps the breast in bacon. That's the preparation done - all she has left to do is pop it in the oven for 30 minutes and in this case she serves it with a packaged mixed salad.
Smith calls this her Greek chicken with bacon. Stuffed chicken breast doesn't originate in Greece, but the feta cheese does and the combination of spinach and feta is very typical in that part of the world. Feta cheese is by far the best known of Greek cheeses. It is a brined, white cheese with a crumbly texture made with ewe's milk or from a mixture of ewe's and goat's milk. The most famous combination of feta and spinach in Greek cuisine is in spanakopita, or spinach pie, where a mixture of spinach, feta, onions and egg are sandwiched between crispy filo pastry.
A quick Google search for 'stuffed chicken breast' yields over 5 million results, which shows just how popular this idea is and the range of possibilities for different variations. You could make this a staple weekday dish without tiring of it just by changing the ingredients for the stuffing - how about mozzarella, sundried tomato and pesto, fig and gorgonzola or, for something with a bit of a kick, chorizo picante and cilantro.
Smith is watching her carb intake so she serves the stuffed chicken breast with the simple green salad, but she recommends serving it with rice as well for a heartier meal. Smith slices the breast "so you can see how nice it is inside" and arranges it over her salad; "it looks so pretty", she says. That's the beauty of this dish; it looks impressive and tastes delicious so no one will ever guess how quick and easy it really is.
Stuffed Chicken Breast
1 package frozen spinach (or fresh spinach cooked)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 cup (8 ounces) feta cheese
pepper, to taste
2 skinless chicken breasts
Pre-heat oven to 375° F.
1. In a bowl mix spinach, mayonnaise, garlic, feta cheese and pepper together. I do not use salt because the feta cheese and bacon are both salty. Set aside.
2. Lay the chicken breast on a cutting board and carefully slice a pocket on one side to within ¬ inch of the other three sides of the breast.
3. Take feta and spinach mixture and stuff the pocket of the breast.
4. Lay the stuffed breast on the board and wrap one piece of bacon and then the other around it so that it holds the stuffing in place.
5. Bake in a 375 degree F. oven for 30 minutes.
Serve sliced with rice, rice pilaf, noodles, potatoes, salad and any vegetable side dish such as summer squash or zucchini squash.
• • •
Recipe courtesy of Stephanie Smith, Changing Tides Gift Shop, ACE Hardware, 2012.