Back in the 80’s when I lived in Chapel Hill, NC, there was a restaurant called McCarthy’s Grill. They served a stuffed chicken breast with a flavor that haunts me still, and I have absolutely no idea what was actually in it. I remember walnuts, a mustard sauce, perhaps some kind of cheese. This recipe is NOT it. It wasn’t even close, but I get points for trying. If anyone out there remembers McCarthy’s chicken, please send me your ideas!
Although this isn’t the fabled McCarthy’s chicken, it wasn’t too bad for an experiment. However, the brie I had was a little too “earthy” for this combination…it seemed to beg for mushrooms. When I try this again, I will use a different cheese for the stuffing. A soft-ripened goat cheese, cream cheese, or a Gorgonzola would pair better with the walnuts and dried fruit. I liked the mustard-cream sauce – the mustard was subtle, and hit it off with the fruit and walnuts. A more robust grainy mustard would probably also be good and might just get me closer to finding a stand-in for McCarthy’s chicken.
I don’t have specific amounts for the ingredients. First of all, it was a few weeks ago when I made this and I didn’t write anything down (d’oh). Also I didn’t really measure anything. It’s not baking, so improvise as you will and let me know how it turns out!
Ingredients (as prepared):
- 3 chicken breast halves, butterflied and pounded to even thickness
- Brie, sliced into strips (or other cheese)
- Chopped walnuts, toasted
- Mixed dried fruits
- Fresh rosemary, chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Butter or olive oil
- 2 tablespoons shallot, finely chopped
- 1-2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- ~ 1/2 cup white wine
- ~ 1/2 cup chicken stock
- More butter
- Heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Place a strip of cheese down the center of the chicken breast half; sprinkle with nuts, rosemary, and dried fruit. (Perhaps not as much fruit as pictured…I got carried away.) Leave space at each end of the breast.
- Fold the ends in, and roll the chicken around the filling – much like rolling a burrito. Tie with butcher’s twine to secure. Repeat for each breast half.
- Season the chicken bundles all over with salt and pepper.
- Heat oil or butter in a skillet or saute pan over medium high heat. Brown the chicken bundles on all sides.
- Place browned chicken in a baking dish. Bake until thickest part of chicken reaches around 165F (around 30 minutes). Remove from oven and tent with foil until ready to serve.
- While chicken is baking, prepare the mustard-cream sauce. Remove all but about 2 tablespoons of oil from the skillet. Saute shallots over medium high heat for about a minute, then add wine. Reduce heat; stir to loosen browned bits from pan. Simmer until wine is reduced by about half.
- Add the chicken stock and mustard. Also add any chicken juices that have accumulated in the baking dish, if desired. Simmer until reduced by about half and sauce is slightly thickened. Remove from heat if chicken is not ready.
- When ready to serve, reheat sauce and finish by whisking in a tablespoon or so of butter and a touch of cream. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Serve the chicken breasts with the sauce.
No experimenting with the evening soundtrack- just pure soul goodness. First up, an album called by many “the ultimate soul album”- and you won’t hear me disagree- Lady Soul from the magnificent Aretha Franklin. “Chain Of Fools”, “Money Won’t Change You” and “Natural Woman”? What more do you need? Sing it, Lady Soul!
And for a follow-up, spin Be What You Are the the great Staple Singers. Anything from them on the Stax label is priceless, and this is just a grand gospel/funk/soul groove from start to finish. Dig in!