Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pesto, Mozz & Parmesan Rolled Chicken

                So the other night, I was lacking inspiration and craving something hearty and fulfilling. That’s a tough spot to be in if you’re, like me, the chef of the house. All I had out and ready to go was 2 defrosted chicken breasts. I thought about my options- breaded and pan-fried over greens, ehh, no good, diced and tossed with some pasta, oil & garlic, eehh, no veggie to add in, grill it and find some bread to form some sort of sandwich, ehh I had a sandwich for lunch……okay so I might have been a little cranky this evening, but I wanted something scrumptious, different, and well, quick, because I was getting pretty hungry!
                Back into the fridge I ventured and found a container of pesto all the way in the back…..ah ha! Alright, so now I had chicken and pesto… better shape than I was in 30 minutes ago, but still no definitive dinner plan. “Alright,” I thought, “let me see if I have any cheese to either A- layer the chicken with or B-roll it with.” I did have cheese and I decided to roll it with the chicken, pesto, some roasted peppers, and of course Parmesan (because I put it on everything!). I also had some lingering tomatoes to use up.  I decided to layer them on the bottom of my baking dish instead of rolling with the chicken because 1- I wanted to make some sort of sauce on the bottom and 2- the tomatoes would get watery and take away from the flavors from the pesto and cheese.
                So there, that was my cranky-beginning, happy ending dinner that I……served with frozen tater tots! I know, so ridiculous, but I had them in the freezer and I needed a quick starch and I didn’t have anything else to use! Enjoy…
Pesto, Mozz & Parmesan Rolled Chicken
Serves: 2
OBJ: TCW stretch 2 skimpy chicken breasts into a gourmet meal

2 medium sized boneless, skinless chicken breast, pounded thin
¼ C pesto- homemade or store-bought (I recommend Buitoni)
¾ C shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
¼ C Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 whole roasted pepper, sliced thin
1 C Italian flavored breadcrumbs, plus 2 TBS
2 large tomatoes, sliced thin- about 1/4-1/8 inch
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
¼ tsp hot pepper flakes
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
S & P: salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
2. In the bottom of a medium-sized casserole dish, layer the tomatoes, drizzle 2 TBS oil, red pepper flakes, a pinch S & P, balsamic vinegar on top. Then, spoon the 2 TBS breadcrumbs and 1 TBS grated cheese over top, place aside
3. Lay out the chicken breasts, smear about 2 TBS pesto on each breast, leaving about ½ inch border, on top add the slices of roasted pepper
4. Top about ¼ C mozzarella over each breast, then sprinkle remaining parmesan cheese on top of mozzarella
5. Starting at smaller end of breast, tightly roll each piece of chicken up, use 3 toothpicks for each breast to seal
6.  Gently roll each breast in breadcrumbs, covering completely
7. Place chicken on top of tomato mixture, lightly brush each with olive oil
8. Sprinkle with S & P, bake for 20 minutes, then sprinkle ¼ C of mozz on top of the chicken, then finish baking for another 10-15 minutes (total time:30-35 minutes), or until chicken is cooked through
Before baking, however please note that as my pics show, I burnt the cheese on top. So don't add on top until last 10-15minutes!!!
9. Bring to table and serve, be sure to scoop out the tomatoes underneath- they make this dish a winner!

*** Depending on the size of your chicken pieces, you might need less/more of pesto and parmesan. The pesto should be a thin layer and not goopy, same with the parmesan, too much and it will be salt overkill so make sure its just sprinkled over the mozz. ***

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