Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Chicken and grits...

When we were back in Phoenix, we had planted a couple rosemary plants that flourished and both grew into an impressive sight! However, they don't hold up well to the winters out here, so I'm always anxious to get new ones started about this time of the year. Mom sent us some herbs in pots for my birthday and one of them happened to be a rosemary plant that is taking off inside thanks to a sunny spot by a window!

Since it had finally grown a bit, I clipped a few stems off so I could impart its intense fragrance into two dishes we had for dinner. The first way I used the rosemary was in this Goat Cheese Grits dish I made as a side tonight.

While the main reason I choose this recipe was to finally finish up the container of quick grits I've had for way too long, I also was attracted by the use of goat cheese! If you happen to have stone-ground grits, by all means use those instead and cook the mixture for 30 to 60 minutes like you would polenta (which means they will have a more developed flavor), but I wouldn't say no to quick grits... especially when you need a side in a hurry.

The original recipe did call for using all water to cook the grain in, but we used half vegetable broth to beef up (so to speak!) its pale flavor. It also called for using fresh basil, but as I mentioned, we wanted to incorporate the rosemary, especially since it was going into the main dish as well. Also, don't be skimpy on the salt even though you are using broth - grits need to be almost overly seasoned so it won't get lost in the goat cheese. Once the grits had soaked in the liquid and became thick, we took it off the heat before stirring in the soft cheese, fresh parsley, the rosemary and fresh ground black pepper.

If you are off with your timing and this gets done before you are ready to serve it, slap a cover over the top and they should stay fairly loose from the residual heat. Just like polenta, the grits will begin to set up as they cool down and you want these to stay warm and fluid. I would probably add a bit more rosemary (or basil if you are so inclined) next time as the tang in the goat cheese was fairly dominant - however, the grits do tone that down so it wasn't too much and the richness from the cheese made up for a lack of butter. Versatile enough to flavor as you like, we both enjoyed this as it was a nice change of pace from your everyday side dish choices.

We echoed that tang from the pool of grits into these Herbed Stuffed Chicken Breasts that I made to go along with for dinner.

Before I got my hands messy with the chicken, I stirred together soft goat cheese, more of that fresh rosemary and a surprise ingredient for the salt component, finely chopped Canadian bacon! Instead of slicing the chicken breasts in half to stuff them, we simply made a slit in the thickest portion of the breast and used the knife to form a pocket inside. This way, we could stuff the chicken with the creamy filling and not have to worry about trying to keep the chicken together and the filling inside as we cooked them.

With a light seasoning of salt and fresh ground black pepper, we heated up our trusty cast-iron skillet and started browning the chicken on one side. Because the chicken was fairly thick and meaty (6 ounce portions), once we turned them over to reveal their rich caramelization, we slid the skillet into the oven and let them finish cooking through from the even heat inside. Once they were done, be sure to give them at least a five minute rest before serving - the cheesy concoction inside will be quite molten and you'll also want to give the juices a chance to redistribute throughout the chicken. Instead of just serving a hunk of chicken breast, we sliced them and neatly arranged the pieces on the plate, letting the secret out of the surprise inside!

With goat cheese and fresh rosemary in each, we thought the duo on the plate was a nice way to mirror the two ingredients in different fashions and let them shine. While it tastes like there was a lot of effort used to prepare these moist chicken breasts, this dish is certainly worthy to make when you have guests coming. The breasts could even be prepped ahead of time and left in the refrigerator to make for a speedy dinner if you're short on time in the evening.


  1. Canadian bacon - I'm shocked! Where's the prosciutto???


  2. What a great idea to use Canadian bacon. I love those recipes. Keep them coming.

  3. Quinn - We've done quite a few chickens stuffed with prosciutto!

    Helene - Thanks!

  4. Yum, looks good -- I'm bookmarking this one!

  5. What a fabulous-looking dinner! I love your herb-stuffed chicken, and being the good southern girl that I am, I just adore that you had some wonderful grits to go along with it. Everything tastes better with grits.