Looking for recipe ideas for a romantic dinner? Chopped dried apricots and herbed goat cheese top these stuffed chicken breasts. Make this chicken dinner a day ahead and enjoy a hassle-free evening at home.
- 2 tablespoons Olive oil, divided
- 1 Shallots, peeled and finely chopped
- ¼ cups Finely chopped dried apricots
- 2 tablespoons White wine
- 1-½ tsp Chopped fresh sage leaves
- ½ teaspoon Chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 4 ounces, weight Chèvre (goat cheese), room temperature
- 1 tbsp Finely chopped almonds
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp Salted Butter, Softened And Divided
- 2 Large boneless skinless chicken breasts
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Saute shallot and chopped dried apricots until lightly browned and shiny, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Add the wine and continue to stir for another minute, or until the liquid is absorbed, then stir in the herbs. Cook for another minute or until the herbs become fragrant but not golden. Remove skillet from heat.
Add the goat cheese to the skillet and stir to combine with the apricot mixture. Then add the almonds. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to stir until everything is well blended. The mixture should start to come together into a ball. That’s what you want to see; it will be easier to work with when stuffing chicken breasts. Transfer goat cheese filling to a small bowl and set aside.
Butter a baking dish with 1/2 tablespoon of butter, set aside.
Using a paring knife, cut pockets in the chicken breasts, starting at the thicker end where the tendon is. Use your fingers to gently push through the chest to make a pocket, being careful not to poke a hole in the side. Use a small spoon or your fingers to stuff a chicken breast with half the goat cheese filling. Gently massage the meat to push the filling into the furthest corners of the pocket, then pinch the hole closed. Fold the thin end of the chicken breast under (covering any fine points or holes that may have torn when stuffing the chicken breast) and place in the prepared baking dish with the folded side down down. Repeat with second chicken breast, using remaining filling if possible. You don’t want to overcrowd the chicken, so don’t worry if you have leftover filling.
Rub the remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter over the outside of the chicken breasts, being careful not to push the stuffing. Place the baking dish with the stuffed chicken breasts in the refrigerator, uncovered, overnight or for up to 24 hours, but no longer than a day.
When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375ºF. Cover the stuffed chicken breasts tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 120ºF. After 45 minutes, remove the foil and baste the chicken breasts with the pan juices. Bake another 10 to 15 minutes or until the chicken begins to brown.
Increase heat to 475ºF. Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle a small amount of chopped almonds over the meat. Return the chicken to the oven and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the juices run clear. The internal temperature of the meat should be 150ºF.
Remove the chicken from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and carefully cut the breasts crosswise, being careful not to push the stuffing. Serve drizzled with cooking juices. If you have any leftover stuffing, reheat it for a minute or two and serve it with your chicken dinner.