If you grill, I know you probably have the same aversion as I do to boneless skinless chicken breasts. I find them boring, bland, and mostly uninteresting. In fact, I would probably be more pleased if I grilled one of my BBQ gloves for dinner. My irritation for these things knows no end.
Knowing this, you can about picture my reaction when Zoë suggested we grill chicken breasts for dinner. After my head was finished spinning, and my eyeballs returned to their sockets, I reminded her of my disdain. Of course, while I was quick to dismiss, she prodded me to make them interesting.
“How about adding spinach and goat cheese,” she suggested. My brain, and most importantly, my stomach, started to churn. “I think we need some pancetta, too,” I added. We were on to something. It doesn’t usually happen this way.
In no time flat, I had one of the better boneless skinless chicken breasts to grace my grill. It was a surprising and momentous occasion.
Grilled Spinach, Goat Cheese, & Pancetta Rolled Chicken
by Another Pint Please
3 chicken breasts, boneless & skinless
3 ounces of goat cheese
6 slices of pancetta
3 cups of spinach, chopped
salt and pepper
Blanch the spinach by placing it in a large pot of boiling water. Allow to cook for one minute, then transfer to a colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
The key to grilling chicken breasts, no matter the recipe, is to beat them into a thin uniform thickness. A plump breast may look nice, but when grilled it will cook unevenly. A little mallet time fixes this problem.
Place a chicken breast, smooth side down, on a large piece of plastic wrap.
Remove the tenderloin and either discard or save for another use.
Place another piece of plastic wrap over the chicken and pound with a mallet. Try to get the chicken to a uniform thickness around 1/4 to 1/2 inch.
Place the beaten breasts onto a tray and season both sides with salt and pepper.
Starting at one end of the chicken, add the pancetta.
Smear the goat cheese across the pancetta.
Add the spinach.
Tightly roll the chicken breasts by starting at the end with the stuffing.
Rolling this way helps keep the stuffing within the chicken.
Secure each breast with two pieces of butcher twine.
Be sure to keep the twine taught.
Lightly brush the rolled chicken breasts with olive oil.
Prepare the grill for indirect medium heat.
Grill the breasts over direct medium heat for 2 minutes a side, for a total of 8 minutes.
Transfer to indirect heat and continue to grill another 15-20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 F with an instant read thermometer.
Remove from the grill and allow to rest for about 5 minutes.
We served the chicken over creamed kale. It was all simply superb.
The goat cheese and pancetta make the dish, as every bite was rich and delicious. Maybe I shouldn’t give chicken breasts such a hard time, with the right “friends" and approach, it can be pretty damn good.