Thursday, October 13, 2011

Recipe: Puff Pastry-Wrapped Chicken with Broccoli

I came across this recipe while browsing pins on Pinterest and immediately knew I HAD to make it—it just sounded too good to pass up. The ingredients are all things we love: crispy bacon, tender chicken, flaky buttery puff pastry, and smooth cream cheese, combined in the perfect way. The chicken is stuffed with a flavor-packed cream cheese filling and wrapped up in puff pastry, then baked until golden brown and delicious. The best part about this meal?—It looks kind of fancy and, though it looks like it could take forever to make, it's one of the simplest dishes I've shared here. You simply mix the filling, stuff a little into pockets cut into chicken breasts, wrap the chicken up in puff pastry like a gift, bake, and serve. Easy enough for a weeknight, but pretty enough for a fancy dinner (though flaky puff pastry can be a bit messy when being eaten).

Serves: 4
Prep. time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30-35 minutes, plus 5-7 minutes for the broccoli
Difficulty: Easy

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 frozen puff pastry sheets, rolled out slightly with a rolling pin (make sure to thaw the sheets a few hours ahead of time)
  • 2-4 green onions, finely chopped
  • 5-6 oz. cream cheese (I bought an 8 oz. block of 1/3 Less Fat Philadelphia Cream Cheese and used a little over half of it)
  • 4-6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • A few tsp. flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Broccoli, fresh or frozen (if you buy frozen, just cook the whole bag; if you buy fresh, cook enough so that each person gets about a cup to eat)

Preheat the oven to 400*F.
In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, bacon, parsley, green onion, and a little salt and pepper. Use a flat utensil (a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon would work well) to blend well.

The filling

Cut small pockets into the chicken—cut right down the middle, being sure not to cut all the way from end to end (leave about 1/2 inch on either end, so that it's a true pocket and the filling won't spill out either end), and make sure you don't cut all the way through the chicken, otherwise you'll just have two pieces of chicken, which is not what we're aiming for. Stuff a spoonful or two (or three) into the pockets (it's okay if the filling pokes out over the edge of the pocket...more filling just means more flavor).
Place one chicken breast per single puff pastry sheet, and be sure to place the chicken breasts in the middle of the sheets. Brush a little of the beaten egg along the inside edges of the pastry. Fold over the short ends first, on either end of the breast, then fold one long side then the other, forming a package. Be sure to brush egg onto any place where pastry will touch pastry—the egg helps it stick together. Brush the completed package all over with the egg mixture—this will create that beautiful golden brown color that makes pastries look so appealing.

Beautiful little golden brown packages

Place the puff pastry-wrapped chicken breasts on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the chicken is cooked through (I used a meat thermometer to make sure the chicken was done enough—it should be 165*F inside).

Perfectly cooked chicken

When the chicken is done cooking, turn the oven off and leave the chicken in the oven to keep it warm. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and add the broccoli, cooking for 5-7 minutes, until bright green and tender (but not soft or mushy). Drain and return to the pot, keeping the lid on when not serving so as to hold in heat (broccoli is notorious for not holding heat well). Remove the chicken from the oven.
Cut the puff pastry packages in half and serve each person half, with a side of broccoli.

This was such a fun dish to make and it turned out so well! The puff pastry is flaky, buttery, and light, and the creamy filling in the chicken oozes out when you cut into the package, which I absolutely love. The broccoli helps lighten up the dish a bit, and I highly recommend a nice crisp white wine on the side. While normally, people might be used to eating a whole chicken breast for dinner, you really only need a half with this dish because the filling and pastry make it so filling.

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