Arugula, onion, tomato salad with Parmesan cheese. JANEEN SARLIN
East Quogue resident and Navy veteran Bill Mees speaks in favor of a tax exemption for veterans in the East Quogue School District during a public hearing held by the district's board of education Tuesday night. KYLE CAMPBELL
Chicken breasts with the skin and bones remain moist and tender during the cooking process. However, boneless and skinless chicken breasts that are “brined” in plain yogurt for 24 hours are naturally tenderized. Stuffing the chicken breasts with a filling keeps them moist. Purchase the chicken breasts a day or two before preparing this dinner. While you are at it, make the filling one day and refrigerate it up to two days or freeze it up to a month.
Fresh shiitake mushrooms and shallots are perfect partners to make a filling for stuffed chicken breasts. If fresh shiitakes are not available in your market, substitute cremini or white mushrooms, as dried shiitakes’ strong flavor overpowers delicate subtle shallots.
Prepare your favorite brown rice recipe and stir about a cup of defrosted petit pois and edamame and about one-third cup of diced red bell pepper and herbs into the hot rice and fluff with a table fork to serve with mushroom stuffed chicken breasts.
As a starter, make an easy-to-prepare salad I’ve adapted from Eataly NYC Downtown of baby arugula, red onion, and cherry tomatoes and shaved Parmesan cheese.
Shiitake Mushroom-Stuffed Chicken Breasts(Serves 4)4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless, trimmed
About 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt, or more if needed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
About 1/2 to 3/4 cup fine corn meal, Wondra flour, or rice flour
About 1/4 teaspoon of sweet paprika
Canola or avocado oil for sautéing
Optional: 1 tablespoon coconut oil
About 1/4 cup dry vermouth
1/2 cup chicken stock for deglazing the pan
For the filling:
About 2 tablespoons avocado or olive oil
3 to 4 shallots, finely chopped
8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, rinsed and sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Few pinches dry tarragon
Splash dry vermouth or Madeira
About 1/4 cup good quality chicken stock
1 to 2 teaspoons unsalted butter or more to taste
Chopped fresh flat leaf parsley to tasteTo prepare:One day before cooking, rinse chicken breasts with cold water and place in a nonreactive bowl and completely coat each piece with yogurt. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Meanwhile, make the filling. In a skillet over moderate heat, coat the bottom with oil, add shallots and sauté until they are translucent and tender, about four to five minutes. Transfer to a side dish and reserve.
Raise the heat, add more oil if necessary to coat the bottom of the pan, add shiitake mushrooms, salt, pepper, and tarragon and sauté, stirring constantly until they are browned, about three to four minutes. Add vermouth, ignite, and when the flames subside, continue cooking, adding stock as necessary until the mushrooms are tender. Stir in reserved shallots, combine well and swirl in the butter. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Remove from the heat, cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate or freeze until needed.
Before stuffing the chicken breasts, stir fresh chopped parsley into the chilled filling.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place a baking dish that will hold the chicken breasts in one layer next to the stove.
Remove chicken breasts from the yogurt and rinse with cold running water. With paper towels, pat the chicken dry and place it on a cutting board. With one hand on top of the chicken breast and a sharp knife in the other hand, cut a horizontal slit on the side of the breast, keeping equal amounts of flesh above and below the cut. Open the “pocket” with your fingers and stuff about 2 tablespoons of shiitake filling in the chicken. Press the edges of the slit together to “seal.”
Stir the flour, salt, pepper, and paprika together on a plate. Roll the chicken in the seasoned flour and pat off the excess flour.
In a skillet over high heat, coat the bottom with oil. When hot, add chicken and sauté until browned on both sides, about two to three minutes per side. Transfer to the baking dish and arrange the chicken breasts in a single layer.
Deglaze the skillet with vermouth and chicken stock, stirring up any brown parts in the bottom of the pan. Pour the “sauce” over the chicken, cover the chicken with parchment paper and cover the dish with aluminum foil. Crimp the edges of the foil.
Bake until the juices run clear when pierced with a two-pronged fork, about 20 to 25 minutes. Check after 15 minutes.
Pour the cooking juices into a saucepan over high heat and cook for about four to five minutes. Keep the chicken hot. Arrange on a platter and pass the sauce at the table.Arugula, Onion And Tomato Salad With Parmesan CheeseAdapted from Lidia Bastianich, Eataly NYC Downtown
(Serves 4)About 6 to 7 cups of baby arugula, washed and spun dry
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 pint ripe grape or cherry tomatoes cut in half
About 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Good quality extra virgin olive oil, to taste for drizzling
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
About 2 ounces shaved Parmesan cheese, broken over the saladTo prepare:In a salad bowl, add arugula and onion and toss together.
Drizzle only enough oil to lightly coat the salad greens. Toss well.
Add lemon juice and tomatoes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss well.
Taste and adjust the seasonings. Add more lemon juice or oil according to personal preference.
Scatter broken shavings of cheese on top and serve at once.
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