By Cat, Sept 2011 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons, then converted from png to jpg format)
On my first trip to Manhattan, New York City in the 1980s, I purchased a small cookbook, The Café Des Artistes Cookbook, by George Lang (1). It included some history about the restaurant, pictures of the murals of female nymphs by Howard Chandler Christy, and several French recipes from the restaurant’s menu. That restaurant closed in 2009, and reopened as The Leopard at des Artistes (2), with an Italian menu.
This recipe uses Stilton cheese, an English blue cheese they consider to be the King of cheeses. It is often served with fruit and wine as a dessert or appetizer course. It has a strong, pungent aroma that can be off-putting, but that odor is minimized when cooked, as in this recipe.
Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Stilton Cheese
This recipe is adapted from The Café Des Artistes Cookbook, by George Lang (1). While Stilton is the preferred cheese for this dish, other pungent blue cheeses including Gorgonzola, Roquefort, or Danish blue may be used.
The recipe calls for boneless, skin-on breasts, which can be hard to find at your local supermarket (boneless breasts are usually also skinless). In that case, use bone-in, skin-on breasts (I use them from a cut-up whole chicken), and remove the bones yourself. The skin is important to protect the meat from the high heat of frying in fat, and also to help retain moisture in the meat. Contrary to general opinion, chicken skin is good for you.
Ingredients & Equipment:
- 4 ea 6 – 8 oz boneless chicken breast halves, brined
- 6 oz Stilton cheese, at room temperature
- 8 Tbsp butter or ghee, divided
- ¼ cup chopped fresh chives
- ¼ cup shopped fresh parsley
- unbleached white flour seasoned with black pepper for dredging
- 2 eggs
- fresh white-bread crumbs (do not use crusts)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- large bowl for brining
- meat pounder
- baking parchment
- large cast iron skillet
- Baking dish
- fork for turning chicken
- Brine chicken. Rinse after removing from brine, and pat dry.
- Mash cheese, butter and herbs together with a fork. Divide into 4 portions, rolled into finger shapes about 3 inches long.
- Lightly pound breast meat between sheets of baking parchment; place skin-side down on a counter and place cheese finger across the widest part of the breast meat. Fold 4 sides over filing, tucking in any loose ends and enclosing filling as much as possible, making a rectangle. Temporarily secure with toothpick. Repeat with remaining 3 breasts.
- Dust each breast package with seasoned flour, shaking off excess. Roll in egg to coat completely, then coat with crumbs, pressing them firmly into chicken.
- Refrigerate at least 2 – 3 hours, or put in freezer about 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F.
- Heat remaining 4 Tbsp butter/ghee and ¼ cup olive oil in skillet over medium high heat (do not use high heat, as the butter and olive oil will become oxidized; ghee is more stable). When fat is very hot, put in coated chicken pieces (removing toothpicks), skin side down. Fry until golden brown, 2 – 3 minutes on each side.
- Transfer pieces to oven and bake about 20 minutes, until cooked through. Do not turn chicken while it bakes (and don’t be concerned if butter-cheese mixture seeps out.
- Serve at once with juices from baking pan spooned over
Assembly or Serving Suggestions
- Serve with steamed red potatoes or noodles.
- Accompany with Seared Green Beans, Asparagus or Broccolini
- Garnish with tart apple slices.
- The Café Des Artistes Cookbook, by George Lang
- The Leopard at des Artistes (theleopardnyc.com)