Monday, February 06, 2012

What's on the Grill #238: Fontina & Proscuitto Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Yes, another stuffed chicken breast post.  I was going to lead off with some breast jokes to break the ice, but my Mom reads this stuff.  Now don't get me wrong, I'd love for her to call me, but I prefer it not be about the content about the blog and my bad sense of humor.
So anyway, yes stuffed chicken breasts.  When it comes to grilling chicken breasts, stuffing them is the only way I find them palatable and if someone else in the house didn't want them, I would never make them.  So, to help me "get by", I've made a new chicken breast requirement…they must come from a chicken I dismantle.  I figure if I can't work stock and  soup into the mx, I'm not pushing myself hard enough.
The Split
It really makes no sense in my mind to just buy boneless skinless chicken breasts.  Cutting up a whole chicken is easier, cheaper and often times, I find has better breasts then those already butchered.
One caveat.  It can be a bit of challenge to play with poultry and simultaneously not cross contaminate everything in the kitchen. By "everything", I mean beer, as everything else can wait the 10 minutes it takes to butcher a bird.  My solution is simple, even if my Dad thinks it set the beer world back several decades.
Break
So, after a few wacks of the knife and sips of the straw, I had a cut up chicken.
Chicken Pieces
This recipe calls just for the breasts.  However, I grilled all off of the chicken, which I later pulled from the bone to use through out the week for lunch.  The bones and scraps were then saved for chicken stock turn soup I made the next day.
Grilled Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Prosciutto & Fontina
Adapted from The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook
4 chicken breasts
4 T unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
4 t chopped fresh tarragon
2 ounces fontina cheese, rind removed & cut into 4 sticks
4 thin slices prosciutto
Cut a horizontal pocket in each of the breasts, ensuring to not cut all of the way through and leaving about a 1/2 of flesh on the three "non pocket" sides.
Next…and this takes a little planning ahead, brine the chicken.  Take 2 quarts of cold water and mix in 1/4 cup of kosher salt into a large container, bowl or bag.
Briney Dip
Submerge the chicken into the brine mixture and allow to sit at least an hour, preferably more.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix together the butter, tarragon and shallot.  Next, wrap your fontina cheese with the proscuitto.  I thought this idea was pretty ingenious.  All too often, stuffed cheese flees grilled food like rats on a sinking ship.  The proscuitto helps dam up the escape route, which is better for your grill and for dinner.
Fontina & Prosciutto
Prep the grill for indirect medium.  Remove the  chicken breasts from the brine.  Rinse well and pat dry and season with salt and pepper.  Spread some of the butter mixture on the inside of each breast and then stuff with the proscuitto/fontina wrap.
In the Pocket
There are several ways to close a stuffed chicken breast.
Close the Pocket
Although after gnawing on one too many toothpicks through the years, I think twine is the easiest and depending on your chewing habits, probably the safest too.
Tie the Pocket
Take three pieces of cooking twine and wrap and truss the breasts.  If you have done your job correctly, nothing should escape.
Take the breasts to the grill and start them initially over direct medium heat, about 5-6 minutes a side.  From there, move to indirect heat and finish cooking until the internal temperature reaches 160 F.
Stuffed Chicken Breasts

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