First off, I don’t know what makes this recipe French, unless it’s wine and butter. Secondly, they were really delicious, but probably could have been put together better. Here’s what I learned from making this recipe: stuffed chicken breasts are really difficult to pull off. It’s hard to get chicken breasts really thin, for one thing, and it’s hard to keep the stuffing inside the chicken, for another. I made this for Christmas dinner, with roasted, smashed parmesan potatoes, and a simple green salad with warm bacon vinaigrette. All French recipes, if, again, you consider things that are French to also be really delicious and have a lot of butter, wine and bacon.
But I’ll give you the recipe anyway, because they were really, really tasty, and maybe you’re better at tying string around raw chicken breasts than I am.
French Style Stuffed Chicken Breasts
1-2 lb of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 1 per person, more if you want leftovers
2 big portobello mushroom caps, or baby portobellos if you can find them, chopped
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
4 sticks of fresh or dried thyme, pulled off the twig and smooshed up
3 tbsp, plus 2 tbsp butter
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup white wine, plus 3/4 cup for later, I typically use a $4 bottle of pinot grigio from TJ for cooking
3 tbsp cream cheese
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
salt and pepper
several pretty long pieces of string- I used white embroidery thread I had in my sewing box, because I was worried that red would turn it red, a la Bridget Jones.
Firstly, put the 3 tbsp butter, onions, garlic and diced mushrooms in a big saute pan on medium heat. Cook them together, with a little salt and pepper, until the onions start to get transparent and the mushrooms shrink and are a bit brown (note- portobellos are kind of ugly when you cook them, they turn gray and hideous, but they are really really tasty, so, hang in there).
When they’re a little brown and cooked-looking, pour in the 1/2 cup of white wine and the lemon juice and cook down until the liquid is mostly absorbed and thick, about 10 minutes. Then add in the cream cheese and cook until it all melts into the sauce. Sprinkle the thyme over it and cook for another minute, then remove from the heat and cool it a bit. When it’s cooled a little, put it in your food processor and blend until a relatively fine paste. Remove to a bowl and let it cool awhile longer.
So, for the chicken breasts. First trim them of any yicky fat, and if they have the tenderloins attached, remove those and reserve for another use. To flatten them, I put two breasts at a time in a 1 gallon ziploc bag and hit them with something heavy until they thin out- a can of beans, a heavy glass, etc. The idea is to spread them out a bit, kind of like dough, so focus on the sinewy bits of the breast and smoosh them outward.
When they’re as thin as you can get them, and honestly, mine could have been thinner, make a little pile of them on a plastic cutting board, and prepare the filling and string. On each breast, spread out a layer of the filling, enough to cover the whole thing but not a whole pile, roll up the chicken breast whichever way makes the most sense, and tie it up with the string, starting at the ends. I’m not going to belabor this point too much, as mine were messy and I’m not sure I’m in any position to give anyone tips on tying up chicken.
Anyway. When they’re all tied up, get a big dutch oven hot on medium-high heat and melt the remaining 2 tbsp butter in it. When the butter is melted, sear the sides of the chicken until they’re brown. If you have to do this in batches, that’s fine, but you want the chicken to get a chance to brown and not steam in the pot. It’s safest doing 3 at a time, depending on the size of your dutch oven. If you do them in batches, simply remove the seared ones to a plate until they’re all done. When they are all done, put them all back in the dutch oven and pour in the rest of the white wine, chicken stock, and any remaining mushroom mixture. Cook away, loosely covered on medium heat, for at least an hour and the chicken gets all tender and delicious. Flip halfway through.
After about an hour, remove the chicken breasts (you’ll be surprised at how well they stuck together, I was) and tent them with foil. You’ll see some mushroom bits, probably a lot, floating around in the pan now. You can either strain the sauce to get rid of the bits, or you can leave them in. I left mine in, but you could do either. Whichever you do, raise the temperature of the sauce to high, letting it boil away. Put in the mustard and let it thicken a bit. If it has trouble thickening, sprinkle some flour into it, whisking it into the sauce. Just make sure, if you do that, to let it boil for at least another minute to kill the raw flour flavor.
Cut the string off the chicken, pour sauce over it and serve. Mmmmm.