My garden seems to have sprung into action with the heat last weekend. The herbs are practically begging to be picked and eaten. A few years ago I heard a lecture by Eaglesong, an herbalist who runs Ravencroft Garden and at that time was chief gardener at the Herbfarm. One of the things she said that stuck in my mind was the more you pinch your herbs, the happier they’ll be. So don’t hold back, go ahead and pluck away. They will thank you by growing even more vigorously. In the case of chives, they are already blooming so it is almost time to cut them down and start all over again.
Scissors in hand, I headed out to make my herbs happy and hopefully my dinner guests too. I had in mind herbed goat cheese stuffed chicken breasts. Port Madison Farm on Bainbridge Island makes an unforgettable crumbly, tangy, soft goat cheese perfect for this recipe. They sell it and other goat cheeses at several of the Farmers Markets. In case you are wondering, the basil in the photo also came from the Farmers Market, unfortunately my garden isn’t warm enough yet for that. This is a wonderful dish to make for guests since you can do most of the work ahead of time and then sit back and enjoy the company and the garden.
4 boneless chicken breasts
4 oz soft goat cheese
2T sour cream (optional)
2T olive oil
1T each assorted minced herbs — basil, tarragon, chives, rosemary — feel free to make your own combination using whatever is fresh
Salt & freshly ground pepper
In a bowl mix together the goat cheese, herbs, 1T olive oil and some salt & pepper. (I wanted to extend the goat cheese and make it more creamy so I also added about 2T sour cream.
Cut a 3-inch-long pocket in the thickest part of the chicken breast. Stuff 1/4 of the cheese mixture in each breast and close with toothpicks. Season the stuffed chicken breasts with salt & pepper, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to a day ahead.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Heat the butter and 1T olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Place the chicken breast side down in the pan. Cook for 5-6 minutes until the skin is golden brown. Using a spatula, turn the breast gently over and cook for another 4-5 minutes. I did 2 batches of these — 2 at a time. Transfer the pan-fried breasts to a baking sheet and cook another 10-15 minutes until completely done. (This timing depends on how thick the chicken breasts are. The only way to really tell if they are done is to cut into the thickest part. I cut them in half to serve because mine were quite large). Don’t forget to remove the toothpicks or at least remind your guests to.
This recipe was inspired by The Union Square Cafe Cookbook by Danny Meyer & Michael Romano.