Apricot, Cream Cheese and Pine Nut Stuffed Chicken

    This chicken dish is comfort food at it's best - a trusty recipe that relies on a classic combination of flavours. 

    Plump chicken breasts are stuffed with cream cheese, juicy apricots, pine nuts and chives, then coated in seasoned panko crumbs.

    Ingredients:

    • 4 x skinless chicken breasts
    • 8 tbs cream cheese, softened 
    • 20 small dried apricots, sliced thinly
    • 2 heaped tbs pine nuts, toasted
    • 2 tbs finely chopped chives
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 c panko crumbs
    • Zest of 2 lemons
    • 2 tbs chopped parsley 
    • 2 tsp garlic powder
    • Salt and pepper 

    stuffed_chicken-1.jpg

    Method:

    1. Preheat oven to 180°C fan bake.
    2. Line a large baking tray with baking paper, and set aside. 
    3. Mix together the cream cheese, apricots, toasted pine nuts and chopped chives in a bowl until well combined, and set aside. 
    4. Lay your chicken breasts out on a chopping board, and butterfly them, creating a pocket in each breast:
      1. Place your hand flat on top of the breast, and use a sharp knife to slice in to one side of the breast, cutting parallel to your hand, about 1/3 of the way in to the thick side of of the breast, then stop before you cut right through.
      2. Open the slice out, so the breast looks like a butterfly. 
      3. Use a sharp knife to cut from the centre line, back towards the outer side of thickest half of the 'butterfly', again without cutting through, until you have formed an 'inner pocket' on one side of the opened breast. 
    5. Stuff each pocket generously with the cream cheese mixture until it is firmly packed - it doesn't matter if a little bit spills out. 
    6. Once each pocket is stuffed, fold the other side of the 'butterfly' over the pocket, to seal the stuffing in to the breast, then use your hand to gently shape and seal the breast together. 
    7. Prepare a crumbing station by mixing the 2 eggs together in a shallow dish with 2 tbsp of cold water. In a seperate dish, mix together the panko crumbs, lemon zest, chopped parsley, garlic powder, and a generous amount of salt and pepper.
    8. Gently dip each chicken breast in the egg mixture until well coated, then place in to the crumb mixture, turning a few times until the outside is totally covered in crumbs. 
    9. Place the chicken breasts on the prepared baking tray and bake in the oven for 25-35 minutes until the crumbs are golden brown, and the chicken is cooked through (74°C). 

    Notes

    • Make sure you select dried apricots that are still plump and juicy. If they are extremely dry and tough, soak them in boiling water for 10 minutes to rehydrate them a bit. 
    • If the stuffing mixture doesn't appeal - make up your own! We've tried goats cheese with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes, blue cheese with walnuts, and many other variations. 
    • If you don't want to muck around with crumbing the breast, cook them uncoated; or as an extra tasty alternative, wrap them in streaky bacon, and grill them for 5 minutes at the end of the cook time. 

     
    Stuffed chicken breast