Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Olives


Joanne Weir Cooking Class Second SeasonBoneless, skinless chicken breasts are a great starting point for a simple weeknight dinner. But when you remove the skin from the chicken, lots of the flavor is lost. Chicken breasts need a little something to give them a jump start, so I stuff them. This assertive mix of fresh goat cheese, briney black olives, and fresh-from-the-garden oregano, flat-leaf parsley, and thyme really do the trick. Stuff the breasts several hours ahead of time and cook them at the last minute.

4 ounces fresh goat cheese
1 tablespoon whole milk
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons chopped imported black olives, such as Kalamata or Niçoise
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
1/2 cup chicken stock

In a small bowl, mash together the goat cheese and milk until smooth. Add the garlic, parsley, oregano, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Mix in the olives and season to taste with salt and pepper.

On the thickest side of each chicken breast, cut a deep, 3-inch-long pocket. Using your fingers, stuff the goat cheese mixture into each pocket. Close by pressing the flesh together and secure with a toothpick, if necessary.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Have ready a lid that is too small for the pan, but will cover all the breasts. Cook the chicken on 1 side until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn the breasts, season with salt and pepper, and set the small lid on top of the chicken in the pan. Continue to cook until the chicken is cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes more.

Transfer the chicken to a warm serving platter. Pour the wine into the pan and cook, scraping up the flavorful brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Cook until the wine has reduced by about half, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the sauce is reduced to a glossy syrup, about 1 minute.

Drizzle the reduction over the chicken and serve.

Serves 6

TO DRINK: Sauvignon Blanc