French-Style Stuffed Chicken Breasts

This meal was so fantastic, I wanted to share it with you immediately after eating.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it the rest of the evening after eating, and I wished it were on the menu for the following evening as well.  All signs of a great dish, I tell you.  It is definitely a meal that is nice enough to serve to guests, but I loved it so much I’m sure we’ll enjoy it on plenty of regular weeknights as well.  This may seem a bit complicated but I assure you, it’s easier than it may seem and definitely worth any extra effort it does require.

The chicken breasts are filled with a mixture of mushrooms, leeks and fresh herbs as well as very finely processed chicken tenderloins which help keep the filling cohesive, sturdy and moist.  The dish is finished off with an unbelievable pan sauce that is full of flavor.  Please, please don’t skip the sauce – it is what takes this meal from good to great.

Side note – Today’s giveaway is one of my most used and most loved kitchen items, a mechanical pastry bag from Williams Sonoma.  I actually just purchased a new one because after four years, I finally wore out my old one with so much use!  See the Facebook page to enter.  Details will be posted before 8 am.

French-Style Stuffed Chicken Breasts
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4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (8 oz. each)
3 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced thin
1 small leek, white part halved lengthwise and chopped (about 1 cup)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
½ tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
½ cup dry white wine
1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, divided
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. unsalted butter

If your chicken breasts have the tenderloin attached, remove the tenderloins and set aside.  Using a sharp knife, butterfly each chicken breast horizontally, almost all the way through but not quite, leaving the two halves attached like the pages of a book.  Open up the butterflied breasts and lay them out flat.  Place each piece of chicken, laid out flat, in a large zipper-lock bag one at a time.  Pound the chicken pieces to ¼-inch thickness.  Trim about 1½ inch from the long side of the cutlets, to remove about 1½ to 2 ounces per piece of chicken.  (Use the reserved tenderloins in place of or in addition to the trimmings to equal about ½ cup total reserved chicken pieces.)  Process the trimmings in a food processor until smooth, about 20 seconds.  Transfer the puree to a medium bowl.  Do not wash out the bowl of the food processor.

To make the stuffing, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until all moisture has evaporated and the mushrooms are golden brown, about 8-11 minutes.  Add an additional tablespoon of oil as well as the leek; cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 2-4 minutes.  Mix in the garlic and thyme and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add 1½ teaspoons of the lemon juice and cook until the moisture has evaporated, about 30 seconds.   Transfer the mixture to the bowl of the food processor.  Return the pan to the heat; add the wine and scrape the pan to loosen browned bits.  Transfer the wine mixture to a small bowl and set aside.  Turn off the heat on the pan.

Pulse the mushroom mixture in the food processor until roughly chopped, about five 1-second pulses.  Transfer the mushroom mixture to the bowl with the pureed chicken.  Mix in half of the parsley, and the salt and pepper.  Use a spatula to fold together the stuffing ingredients until well combined.

With the chicken breasts laid out flat, spread a quarter of the filling mixture over each of the breasts, leaving a clear edge around the perimeter.  Roll up each breast as tightly as possible without squeezing out the filling and place seam-side down.  Tie evenly with 3 pieces of twine around each chicken breast.

Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.  Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Add the chicken bundles and brown on all sides, about 2 minutes per side.  Add the broth and reserved wine mixture to the pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken reads 160˚ F, about 12-18 minutes.  Transfer to a plate or cutting board and tent loosely with foil.

While the chicken is resting, whisk the mustard into the cooking liquid.  Bring the heat to a high simmer, scraping the pan bottom to loosen browned bits.  Simmer until reduced to ½ cup, about 7-10 minutes.  Off the heat, whisk in the butter, remaining parsley and lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Remove the pieces of twine, slice the chicken pieces on a slight diagonal, and serve with sauce spooned over the top.

Source: Cook’s Illustrated, May/June 2008

22 Responses

  1. Looks yummyyyyyy♥


  2. Yum! Between the mustard, lemon and white wine – I bet this has fantastic flavor.

  3. this does sound delicious – i will put it on the menu for dinner this weekend! i can’t wait to try it!

  4. These chicken breasts look so yummy and I love the presentation too!

  5. This dish looks amazing. What style mustard did you use. I wonder what it would taste like with spicy mustard? Have a great day

  6. Annie, this looks incredibly yummy and right up Michael’s alley. He’s been working so hard lately, so I know I’ll be making this for him as an extra little treat. Thanks for posting it!

  7. I am not a big fan of poultry and meat but this dish looks very elegant and yummy. The wine and the broth together I bet gives this dish a very distinctive and yummy flavor. My husband would love to eat some of this 🙂 will see…….

  8. This looks like a delicious dish and a great dinner idea, Annie. Sometimes it’s tough to think of one after another creative things to do with chicken breasts, but recipes like this keep me inspired and get me craving chicken at 8AM! Thanks for sharing.

  9. I’m intrigued by this. I don’t buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but I’m thinking this could be made with bone in breasts. (I buy whole birds and dismantle them myself.) The knife work might require some expertise, but I think it could be done.

  10. And, best news of all is that 1)I have all the ingredients and 2)I was trying to figure out what to do with chicken tonight. So, now it’s a choice between the mustard/beer chicken on MomChef’s blog or this… These look fantastic!

  11. I made this a few months ago after seeing it on an episode of America’s Test Kitchen. We served it at a dinner party and everyone loved it! 🙂

  12. saving it…just b/c of your description!!! 🙂

  13. I am addicted to Cook’s Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen. This recipe is definitely going on my menu next week!

  14. I love chicken breasts. I always prefer them than drumsticks because I love getting the meat off the bones. And with mushroom involved expect me to be in! Wow, what a glorious looking dish. Gotta make this one when my colds are gone so that I’ll enjoy them. Next week it is!

  15. Wonderful recipe and it looks so pretty.

  16. I’m so glad we just renewed our subscription to CI.

    Excellent post and gorgeous photo as always! I want to go make this right now because the ingredient list rocks with flavors I love.

  17. Oh my god- this chicken looks amazing! Not surprised to see you got the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated– they’re the best! Thanks for sharing!

  18. Annie…
    It smells delicious, in the world do you make this after a long day at work? I started a little after 6 and we will not eat until 9:15! I can already tell it will be worth it and will make it again. I will start earlier next time! Again, thanks for another wonderful recipe.

    • I didn’t take me longer than an hour to make this. To some people that may be too long for a weeknight, but cooking is my way to unwind so I don’t mind it.

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