My absolute favorite recipes are ones that are impressive and prompt guests to say “you MADE that?!”. More often than not, those recipes are also some of the easiest I’ve found. Perhaps that’s why those dishes are the ones I cook over and over again and perfect over time. The best examples are my homemade bread recipe (found here) and the chicken recipe featured below.
I’ve been making a version of my soul sister Ina Garten’s stuffed chicken for years now. It’s the ideal main dish for a dinner party: you can prep it ahead of time, there are few ingredients of which none are typically offensive, and it not only looks delectable but tastes amazing time after time. Reliable, impressive, delicious — what’s not to love?
Well, last year I happened upon a Richard Olney stuffed chicken recipe adapted by Frank Stitt, the James Beard Award-winning Southern chef, in Food & Wine magazine. After trying his version, I knew what I had to do: combine both into my perfect recipe!
- 2 pounds zucchini, grated OR 1 lb. frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
- 5½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 2 whole (4 split) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on chicken
- ¾ cup ricotta cheese OR 6 oz. goat cheese
- ¾ cup breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 2 tablespoons herbes de Provence
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Toss together zucchini (or defrosted spinach) and 2 teaspoons salt in a colander set over a large bowl. Let stand until liquid is released, about 20 minutes. Transfer zucchini or spinach to a clean kitchen towel. Squeeze as much liquid from the vegetable as possible.
- Stir together ricotta (or goat cheese), breadcrumbs, softened butter, marjoram, egg yolk, drained zucchini (or spinach), 1½ teaspoons salt, and 1½ teaspoons pepper until combined.
- Place the chicken breasts on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and pat them dry. Loosen the skin from the meat with your fingers, leaving one side attached.
- Stuff the filling mixture under skin of chicken breast; carefully replace the skin.
- Mold and evenly distribute stuffing, shaping and patting skin on outside of chicken.
- Stir together herbes de Provence, remaining 2 teaspoons salt, and remaining 1½ teaspoons pepper in a small bowl. Drizzle oil over chicken, and sprinkle with herb mixture.
- Bake the breasts for 40 - 45 minutes, until just cooked through.
- Serve hot or at room temperature with a tossed green salad.
There you have it! Enjoy this easy but fancy feast!
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