Jan is having her stitching friends over for a Christmas get-together. She requested a clay pot chicken, something with noodles and a vegetable soup. As I thought about what dishes I would make the theme became, sort of, Italian.
Recently, Myr told me that she thought my chicken dishes were a bit boring and plain. She was praising the advantages of stuffed chicken breasts. I looked at many recipes on-line and they had one feature in common. Cheese was almost always part of the stuffing. Jan finds cheese in meat revolting, so I would have to create my own unique twist on a stuffed chicken breast.
I frequently look at recipes as more of a Chinese menu. Other people’s recipes are a source of ideas—of ingredients, combinations, techniques and cooking times & temperatures—that I might use in my own dish. What I end up with is usually far from any of the recipes I have been perusing.
Karl’s Stuffed Chicken Breasts in a Clay Pot
6 smallish skin on, bone-in, chicken breast halves
2 Tbs. olive oil, separate uses
½ cup red onion, diced
½+ tsp. Kosher salt, separate uses
1 cup mild roasted red peppers, chopped
1 cup frozen chopped spinach
2 tsp. fresh oregano, minced
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
½+ tsp. pepper, separate uses
1 onion, sliced in rings
½ cup vegetable broth
1 tsp. dried oregano
10 whole cloves garlic (optional)
2 Tbs. corn starch dissolved in ¼ cup of water
1 Tbs. flat-leafed parsley, coarsely chopped
Note: Do not preheat the oven!
1. Soak the top and bottom of the clay pot in water for at least 30 minutes.
Tip: The water from the soaking provides the steam necessary for the clay pot to work properly. Never use a dry clay pot in the oven, because your food will dry out and burn.
2. Remove and reserve the skin from the chicken breasts.
Tip: If you wish, you may start with boneless chicken breasts, but I wanted to cover my breasts with the skin to protect the meat from the high heat.
3. Remove the breast meat from the ribs and keel bone.
Tip: Leave the “tender” behind—the strip of meat under the main breast meat. Reserve the bones and tenders for another dish.
4. Place each breast between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound the meat until it is about 3/8 on an inch thick.
5. Add the oil to a pan over medium heat and sauté the onions with the salt, until just soft.
6. Stir in the red peppers, spinach, oregano, rosemary, and pepper. Simmer for two minutes and remove from the heat to cool.
7. Stretch the chicken skin over the meat and lay it skin side down on top of a long piece of string.
8. Place about a third of a cup of the red pepper mixture down the long axis of the chicken breast.
9. Wrap the chicken around the filling, using the string to tie the sides together in several places.
10. Turn the stuffed breast over and pull the skin out until it covers as much of the meat as it can.
11. Repeat steps 7-10 for each piece of breast meat.
12. Drain the clay pot and arrange the onion rings in a layer on the bottom of the pot.
13. Lay the stuffed breast over the onions, in a single layer, and pour the vegetable broth over the chicken.
14. Dust the chicken with a pinch of dried oregano, pepper and salt.
Tip: (Optional) If you like roasted garlic, scatter 10 whole cloves garlic over the chicken.
15. Put the lid on the clay post, put it in a cold oven, and set the temperature to 450º F.
Tip: Don’t forget to turn on the oven.
16. Bake the chicken for 50 minutes.
17. Remove the clay pot lid and use a turkey baster to transfer most of the liquid in the bottom of the pot to a small sauce pan.
18. Continue baking the chicken, uncovered, for another 10 minutes, until the skin is crispy and browned.
19. While the chicken is baking reduce the liquids by about half, over high heat.
20 Remove the pot from the heat and stir in only enough cornstarch to thicken the sauce.
21. Return the pot to the heat and simmer, over medium heat, for one more minute.
22. Remove the clay pot from the oven and pour some of the sauce over the chicken breasts.
Tip: Put any remaining sauce in a bowl to be served on the side.
23. Garnish the chicken with the parsley and put the lid back on the pot.
Tip: The lid will keep the chicken warm until it is served.
24. Present the pot covered, to be opened with a flourish before your diners.