Two Ways To Stuff A Chicken Breast

Chicken breasts don't have a particularly strong personality, but they're a very amicable protein. No matter what flavour profile you're going for, you can depend on the chicken breast to provide the perfect protein canvas without distracting from or clashing with bolder, more pronounced flavours. Structurally, they take very well to stuffing, making them the perfect vehicle for almost any filling you can dream up.

Photo: Claire Lower

I'm always a big fan of one food stuffed inside another food and, though stuffed chicken breasts may seem a little 1994, putting cheese, vegetables and herbs inside one makes dinner a little more interesting, and a lot more delicious. You also don't really need a recipe; once you master the technique, the only limit is what's in your kitchen (and your heart).

There are two ways you can stuff a breast, and there are even more ways to cook them. We'll start with what I call "the slice and stuff". To pull this manoeuvre off, you will need:

  • A chicken breast
  • A sharp knife
  • A cutting board
  • 2 tablespoons of stuffin'
  • Kitchen twine

Place the breast on the cutting board an make a roughly 2.5cm incision in the thickest part of the breast, going about 2cm into the meat. Then, using your fingers, separate the meat, making a pocket. Be gentle, and take care not to make the pocket so big that you tear all the way through.

The "stuffin'" can be whatever you want: A mixture of soft cheese and vegetables, sun-dried tomatoes and pesto (sticking with the '90s theme), or even leftover fried rice mixed with leftover peanut sauce (which is what I used). Just shove it in there, then tie your little meaty package up.

From there, you can either sous vide the chicken at 65C for 45 minutes, then sear it in a pan, or bake it at 190C for half an hour. Due to the lopsided nature of the chicken boob, I prefer sous vide here. If you seared your chicken in a pan, make a quick sauce with the browned bits.

The other stuffing method I uses is the "pound and roll", which cooks a bit more evenly - good news if you plan on baking your winner of a chicken dinner. To execute this move, you will need:

  • A chicken breast
  • A 4L freezer bag
  • Something heavy for pounding your meat
  • A couple of tablespoons of stuffin'
  • Kitchen twine

Place the breast in the freezer bag and hit with your heavy object, starting at the thickest part, until the whole thing roughly uniform in thickness. Place your stuffing in the centre of the chicken; in this instance, I used a bit of cream cheese mixed with garlicky spinach, crispy mushrooms and bacon.

Trim off any frayed bits of chicken - these happen if you pound it too enthusiastically - and roll the flattened meat around the filling. Secure your little package with a couple of pieces of twine, and either sous vide or bake it as described above, with the seam side down.

If you need more specific direction in the filling department, try some Chicken Kiev, some Cordon Bleu, or just stuff it with your favourite pizza toppings. Everything tastes good when treated like pizza.

This is part of The Grown-Up Kitchen, Lifehacker's series designed to answer your most basic culinary questions and fill in any gaps that may be missing in your home chef education.


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