Ever since we ate at The Nest Bistro, I’ve been playing around with the idea of cheffing-up a brie-stuffed chicken breast. It’s such an easy way to add a whole lot of flavour and moisture to an oftentimes dry and tasteless bit of bird! If only there was a way to make it a bit less like the chicken cordon bleu you’d eat down at TGI McFunsters and a tad more cool.
Then Toni called me up and we spent a crisp, rain-free morning slogging around and picking Golden Chanterelle Mushrooms. Shazam! I’d found my angle! The chanterelles were local (I’d picked ‘em myself!), seasonal and when cooked low and slow with some shallots really becomes something gourmet. This process is referred to in French as “Duxelle” and deepens the mushroom flavour by removing the moisture from the mushrooms and replacing with a shot of sherry.
Don’t skimp on the brie. You and you’re dinner guests will tell right away if you’ve got the cheap stuff from it’s plastic-esque smell and texture. Natural Pasture’s Comox Valley Brie or their Camembert are perfect local cheeses to use in this recipe – The brie is light, clean tasting and buttery, the camembert is equally silky and slightly nuttier. Either way, the duxelle will love the company.
I still have some blackberries I picked this summer kicking around in the freezer, so I decided to make a quick reduction with thyme (been waiting to rock this combo) and balsamic vinegar. It works with all the other components of the dish by adding a touch of sweetness and a nice herbal aroma.
The addition of prosciutto was a completely last-minute thing. My local Mega-Lo-Mart was having a sale, and I figured it would be a tasty way to secure my stuffed chicken in the proper shape without toothpicks. It also added salty ‘n crispy elements to the finished dish that balance out the creamy ‘n melty cheese.
It was just as I was plating that I realized prosciutto (a type of dry-cured ham) completes the trinity of ingredients in a cordon bleu. I had unthinkingly deconstructed, played around with and ultimately reconfigured a spiffy new version of what I hoped to avoid. Oh well.
Chanterelle Mushroom Duxelle (Makes approx. ½ cup)
- 1 oz. (30g) Butter
- 1 Large Shallot (70g, finely chopped)
- 1 ½ cups Fresh Chanterelle Mushrooms (125g, finely chopped)
- 1 Tbls. Sherry
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1 Tsp. Fresh Thyme
- Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed sauté pan over low heat and cook the shallots, stirring occasionally until they are soft and translucent (approx. 4 minutes). Add the mushrooms to the pan and continue to cook at low temperature, still stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes the mushrooms should be reduced in size, and much darker now that they’ve lost some of their moisture.
- Pour in the sherry and stir it around to coat everything evenly. Season with salt, pepper and thyme and cook another 5 minutes or until the pan is dry and the mushrooms have absorbed all the booze. The texture of the duxelle should be similar to a dry tapenade. The duxelle can be kept in the fridge for up to a week in a sealed container.
Chanterelle and Brie-Stuffed Chicken Breast (Serves 2)
- 2 – 5oz. Chicken Breasts (boneless and skinless, tenders removed)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 2 oz. (60g) Chanterelle Mushroom Duxelle
- 2 – 1 oz. (30g) Comox Valley Brie
- 5 ¼ oz. (150g) Prosciutto
- 1 oz. (30ml) Olive Oil
- 1 Tsp. (2g) Butter
Method (Pre-heat your oven to 175 ˚C or 350˚F)
- Butterfly the chicken breasts by laying them on a cutting board with the round surface facing up, slice the breasts almost in half width wise and open ‘em up like a book. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
- Smear each of the inside of the breasts (the part of the book where the pages would be) with half of the duxelle and place a 1 oz. portion of the brie along the center “spine” of each breast.
- Lay overlapping portions of the prosciutto on a clean surface. Make sure there is enough to completely cover the open surface of the chicken with just a bit overlapping each edge. Place the chicken in the center of this prosciutto net and roll the chicken and ham into a tight little burrito-shape. Repeat.
- Fire up the olive oil in a sauté pan on med-high heat and toss in the butter. When the butter has finished frothing, swirl it in the pan for even coverage and carefully place the stuffed chicken breasts in the pan with the seam of the prosciutto facing down. Sear the breasts for 2 minutes (this should crisp the prosciutto and start cooking the chicken) and carefully flip it over. Sear all sides of the breasts for 2 minutes each, the whole package should be nice and golden.
- Transfer the chicken breasts to a roasting pan and pop it into the oven to finish cooking for 8 minutes. Don’t clean out your sauté pan quite yet! Save it to do the sauce (see below). Remove your chicken from the oven and let rest for 2 minutes. Serve cut in half (so your guests can marvel at the oozy, ‘shoomy goodness!) over the blackberry-thyme reduction.
Blackberry-Thyme Reduction (Serves2)
- 1 Tbls. Shallots (finely chopped)
- ½ cup (118ml) White Wine
- 1 cup (235ml) Blackberry Juice (basically, just the liquid strained from pureed blackberries)
- ½ Tsp. Fresh Thyme (chopped)
- 1 Tsp. Butter (chilled)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Pour off any excess fat from the pan used to sear the chicken and return it to med-high heat. Toss in the shallots and sauté them until they soften and go translucent (about 1 ½ minutes). Pour in the white wine and deglaze the pan by scraping up any little chicken bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon.
- Pour the blackberry juice into the pan and add the thyme. Simmer it for 10 minutes over high heat, stirring constantly and avoiding any splashes… This stuff will stain like nothing else! The rapid simmering will reduce the liquids down to about a ¼ of a cup. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the chilled butter until it emulsifies with the rest of the sauce and gives it a nice sheen. Season to taste and serve with the stuffed chicken breasts.
Music To Cook This To:
U2 – Rattle and Hum