This was a very grown-up meal.
When it comes to cooking, making dinner with one component is usually enough for me. You know – just pasta or just chicken or just a kooky vegetarian burger. The side dishes that are normally associated with a well-balanced, three-part meal normally come in terms of me eating a tiny piece of chocolate while dinner is being prepared. Or a fresh pita. Or whatever else is on my countertop.
I’m rambling now, but basically what I’m saying is that a dinner hat trick is something I feel I can humbly boast about.
My good friend and old roommate Ariel came over for dinner a few nights ago, and I decided to spoil us. Though I spent the afternoon drooling over Internet images of pumpkin-stuffed perogies, I remembered at the last minute that I had two chicken breasts that needed to be used (don’t worry, the pumpkin perogies will be made and blogged about someday soon). Thus, this dinner came to be.
Here is what old (pre-learning to cook, circa 2010) Hilary and new (cooking, yay!) Hilary think of chicken:
Old Hilary: Okay, so I have this piece of chicken. Even though I’ve had plain chicken for the past three nights, I think I’ll duplicate those “successes” and again fry this on our George Foreman grill until all the delicious juices are oozed out of it. I’ll also slather it in BBQ for good measures and will probably eat it with lots of extra salt. Side dish: plain rice.
New Hilary: Okay, so I have this piece of chicken. Obviously no piece of chicken is complete unless it is stuffed with smooth goat cheese and oven roasted in its own juices with fresh sprigs of rosemary. Oh right, and I have this prosciutto here – sure, that can be a sweater for the chicken in the oven. Four hundred degrees is a little chilly anyways. Let me consult my beautiful, Things Organized Neatly-style cookbook for ideas. Side dishes: hmm, might as well make a fresh arugula salad and potatoes fried in duck fat while we’re at it. (okay, I get it, this sounds super indulgent and gluttonous, but it doesn’t happen often. Mom, I love duck fat. Accept this. Let it be my vice.)
Conclusion: New Hilary is slightly more OCD, and is conscious of how judgmental she is of the girl she once was. New Hilary is also more satisfied with dinner and life on a daily basis.
The roasted tomato juices were delicious with the chicken, and it took all my will power to not tackle Ariel and eat her plateful too. A good, balanced meal, exactly what you want before you spend the rest of your night pigging out on Mayfair Theatre popcorn (whilst crushing on George Clooney), licorice nibs and a really yummy gelato-espresso drink. #girlsnight
Recipe: Prosciutto-wrapped, goat cheese stuffed chicken breasts
Adapted from What to Cook and How to Cook It
– 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
– 2 medium, skinless, boneless chicken breasts
– 2 oz soft goat cheese
– 4 strips of prosciutto
– 1 tsp olive oil
– 2 small, ripe tomatoes (I just bought the bulk, vined ones)
– 1 clove garlic, minced
– 1 tbsp olive oil
– Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Finely chop the needle-shape leaves from the rosemary. Put the chicken onto a cutting board. Using a small sharp knife, cut a slit into the thickest part of each chicken breast, then poke down inside the chicken to make a pocket. Spoon the cheese into each pocket, using your finders to help, then seal the pocket up as well as you can.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with half the rosemary. Wrap 2 strips of prosciutto tightly around each piece of chicken, tucking in any loose ends.
Place a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, then add the 1 tsp of olive oil. After the pan is heated, add the chicken. Cook for at least 2 minutes on each side, until the bacon is starting to turn a different colour. When done, remove from heat and carefully put the chicken breasts in a small casserole dish (see picture above).
Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes and mince the garlic. Arrange the tomatoes to the casserole dish and sprinkle everything with the garlic and the remaining rosemary. Season with more salt and pepper and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Put the pan in the oven for 25 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and set aside for a couple of minutes to let the chicken rest. The chicken will be surrounded by delicious, tomato-flavoured juices.
Serve the chicken with roast potatoes and salad. The juices at the bottom of the dish are wonderful on top of the chicken.
Makes 2 servings.
Recipe: Roasted pear and walnut arugula salad (make this while the chicken is in the oven)
Adapted from Food.com
– 1 firm Bartlett pear
– 1/2 tbsp butter, melted
– 1 tsp sugar
– 1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
– 2 tsp white wine vinegar
– 1/2 tsp salt
– Freshly ground black pepper
– 3 cups arugula, torn into bite-sized pieces
– Parmesan cheese
– 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
Preheat the oven to 500°F.
Cut each pear lengthwise, remove the core and cut into thin slices. Toss pear with butter and sugar.
Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and roast in the oven until the pears are browned on the bottom. Flip and roast for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let the pears cool.
Meanwhile, toast the walnuts in a small dry skillet until browned, three minutes. Set aside.
Whisk the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper together in a small dish.
Combine everything in a bowl and toss. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Makes 3 servings.