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Perfect Holiday Chicken Preparations

Posted on December 4, 2013

The most popular protein of the week–chicken–doesn’t usually get top billing on the holiday meal menu. Goose? Yes. Ham? Certainly! But, our otherwise everyday favorite seems to get bullied away from the celebratory menu. Time to change all that.

Just like a little black dress that can go just about anywhere, chicken can be dressed up for any occasion. Compatible with a wide variety of flavors, you can launch it into the spectacular in a variety of ways. Here are some of our favorite ways to feature chicken as the centerpiece of your festive feast.

Stuff: Use your traditional bread stuffing as a base and go from there. Add in dried cranberries or apples or get more decadent with sweet dates or figs. Toss in pecans or pine nuts and spice it up with the flavors of the season like cinnamon, cloves or a hint of allspice. Herbs like rosemary and thyme will tie it up nicely. Then package it together in a whole roasted chicken, rolled up in breast paillards or even cooked beneath the skin of chicken breasts or legs.

Sauce: Simply reduce balsamic vinegar with touch of brown sugar or honey and drizzle on your chicken for a sweet and tangy treat. Or create a compound butter by blending a stick of salted butter with rosemary, garlic, sage and lemon zest. Rub it all over your chicken before roasting, place a dab or two on top of chicken breasts and broil to perfection or use as a quick finish in a pan of sautéed chicken.

Wrap: If there’s any time of the year that we appreciate the wrapping, now is it! Tie chicken breasts with herbs or wrap with flavorful bacon or prosciutto like we do in the following recipe and you’ll see that it’s not only what’s on the inside that matters.

Prosciutto Stuffed Chicken Breast

2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided

2 tsp. minced garlic

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

4 oz. goat cheese, softened

1/2 cup chopped basil

1 egg yolk

salt and pepper to taste

3 FreeBird boneless skinless chicken breasts

6 slices prosciutto

Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a small sauté pan and cook garlic until just golden. Transfer to a large bowl and combine with ricotta, goat cheese, basil and egg yolk. Blend until smooth and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of parchment or waxed paper and pound into 1/4-inch thick paillards. Lay 2 slices of prosciutto side by side on a clean cutting board. Top with one piece of chicken and place a line of cheese mixture in the center. Roll chicken breast and prosciutto around filling in a cylindrical shape. Repeat with remaining chicken, prosciutto and filling.

Heat remaining oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and brown each stuffed chicken breast for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Place onto a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 20 minutes or until the internal temperature of the filling reads 165º on a meat thermometer. Slice each breast into 2 servings and serve immediately. Serves 4-6.