The deadline for Chow’s chicken breast challenge is fast approaching! (You are competing, aren’t you?) Earlier this week, I concocted a recipe to lend flair to chicken breast, that oft-maligned meat. Here’s what I came up with:
Chicken breast stuffed with cheese, peppers, and green onions, breaded in spiced cornmeal (and Panko). Was it good, you ask? YES: much better than even I expected. The spice of the jalapenos was nicely offset by the relative sweetness of the bell peppers, and the cornmeal breading added a killer crunch. Even Hook was impressed, announcing that he’d eat this dish again (and again, and maybe once more after that).
The best part of this recipe is that it’s simple to prepare. (My imperfect knowledge of fancy cooking techniques made ease of preparation a requirement.) There’s a bit of prep involved, but not a lot — not much more than you’d spend on a stir fry. Really.
Without further ado, here’s how to make Chicken a la Garky:
- Two boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cleaned, trimmed of fat, and butterflied. (Note: do not use thin-sliced breast fillets. Since you’ll be stuffing the breasts, thin fillets won’t cut the mustard)
- 1/4 pint of buttermilk (or more, if you wish)
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon Ancho chile powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3 ounces pepper jack cheese (garlic jack will work just as well)
- 1/4 cup finely-diced orange bell pepper
- 1/4 cup finely-diced pickled jalapenos
- scant 1/4 cup diced Mexican green onions
- Preheat the oven to 375.
- To make the breading for the chicken, combine the cornmeal, Panko, Ancho chili powder, pepper, and garlic powder in a bowl. Mix well, or you’ll end up with peppery patches.
- Measure 1/4 pint buttermilk and pour it into a bowl; set aside.
- Cut your pepperjack into thin slices (quarter-inch is ideal, but thinner is better). Set these slices aside.
- To make the filling for your chicken, mix well the jalapenos, bell peppers, and green onions.
- Here’s the fun part: place half of the sliced cheese inside each chicken breast. Fill each breast with as much pepper mixture as can be accommodated, and then sort of smash the chicken breasts shut. (Note: if you’re feeling really ambitious, you can tie the breasts shut with turkey twine or fasten them with toothpicks, but this extra step isn’t necessary.)
- Now, dip each breast into the bowl of buttermilk, making sure each is fully coated. This is tricky — a bit of the filling may spill out — but hang in there!
- Dredge each breast in the cornmeal/Panko mixture, making sure the entire surface is covered.
- Transfer the breasts to a lightly-greased pan and bake for 40 minutes.
- Once they’re cooked, let the breasts sit for a few minutes before serving.
If you make this dish for your parents, they’ll think you are a real & grown up adult. (Downside: they may stop randomly sending you “fun money.”) Your dinner guests will hail you as a rockstar and will raise many a glass to your name. And you? You’ll add this recipe to your repertoire, knowing that it’s quick, simple, and elegant.