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Feeding the kids: Spinach and cheese-stuffed chicken
In my ongoing quest to find tasty, kid-friendly food appropriate for the whole family, this week I chose a delicious chicken dish that's easy to prepare on busy weeknights. Plus, it's a great way to sneak in spinach for picky eaters. I found the recipe in "Ten Dollar Dinners: 140 Recipes and Tips to Elevate Simple, Fresh Meals Any Night of the Week," by Melissa d'Arabian (Clarkson Potter, $24.99).
Spinach and Cheese-Stuffed Chicken with Lemon Butter
(Makes 4 servings)
-8 ounces thawed frozen chopped spinach (about half a 1-pound bag)
-1/4 pound (4 ounces) sliced, shredded, or chunks of cheese, such as Cheddar, mozzarella, provolone, or Swiss
-2 tablespoons cream cheese
-Zest and juice of 1 lemon
-1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
-1 teaspoon kosher salt
-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
-4 6- to 8-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry
-2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
-2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the thawed spinach in a paper towel, squeeze out the excess liquid, and transfer the spinach to the bowl of a food processor. Add the cheese, cream cheese, lemon zest, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Pulse until the cheese is broken up into small pieces and everything is nicely mixed, about five 3-second pulses. Set aside.
2. Place the flour in a shallow baking dish and set aside. Place your palm flat on top of a chicken breast and, using a sharp paring knife and starting about 1/2 inch from the tip, make a long slit in the side of the chicken, working the knife about three quarters of the way through to the other side, but not cutting through the breast completely, to make a good-sized pocket. Repeat with the remaining 3 breasts and then stuff each with a few tablespoons of the spinach stuffing. Thread 2 to 3 toothpicks (or shortened wood skewers) from top to bottom through the edge of the pocket to fasten it shut. Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and then roll the breasts through the flour, lifting out and gently tapping each one to knock off extra flour.
3. Heat the oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken breasts, smooth side down, and cook until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Use tongs to turn over the breasts and brown on the other side, about 3 minutes more. Drizzle the lemon juice over the chicken and sprinkle the butter pieces over the chicken. Place the chicken in the oven until cooked through and firm to the touch, about 15 minutes. Serve drizzled with the sauce from the pan.