You may remember I was in Texas over Thanksgiving and into December while helping my sister recover from surgery. During this time a dear friend, Mona, brought a meal to the house. It is always nice to have meals provided during such times. I know I have spoken of this frequently as I shared my friends and I were doing something similar for our friend who has been ill. Anyway, back to the meal brought by Mona. Oh my goodness – this was one of the best meals I have ever had to eat! The menu: Baked Chicken stuffed with SunDried Tomato Pesto, Basil, and Goat Cheese, Au Gratin Potatoes, mixed green salad. She also brought some super yummy cookies. The chicken was so incredible, and the potatoes where like no au gratin potato I had before. It was scrumptious. Today I am sharing both the chicken and the potato recipes with you. Thank you Mona! (By the way, Mona is mine and my twin sister’s best friend since we were in 6th grade!)
I know these recipes call for items not kept in all pantries. You will need to make a special trip to the grocer for some of the items called for in the recipes. Having said that, I had no problem finding sun dried tomato pesto, or any other item in these recipes. Sorry I don’t have a final picture of the chicken or the potatoes. But I do have the prep work for the chicken pictured below. Y’all know I’m never the best at capturing the food on film. I’ll try to be better. But, hey, the recipe is the most important part!
Baked Chicken Stuffed with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto, Basil, and Goat Cheese
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated using fine grater (When I made this recipe later, I forgot the finely grated part and just used shredded Parm. Use the finely grated! It makes a difference. I was sorry I made the exchange. I won’t next time.)
6 oz. goat cheese (log type, such as Chevre)
6 oz. purchased or homemade Sun-dried tomato pesto
1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 350 F. Trim all visible fat and tendons from chicken breasts. Put chicken breasts, one at a time, inside a heavy plastic freezer bag and pound with meat mallet or other heavy object until 1/4 inch thick.
Put pesto, goat cheese, and chopped basil in food processor and buzz a few times until mixture is combined but not completely blended. Spread 1/6 of pesto/basil/goat cheese mixture on each chicken breast. Roll up chicken, starting with smallest end, tucking in loose pieces and securing with two toothpicks.
Put parmesan cheese in flat dish, and roll each rolled up chicken breast in the cheese, patting on so you get as much cheese sticking on as you can. (You could dip the chicken in beaten egg if you wanted to get more cheese to stick, but mine stuck on quite well without it.)
Spray glass casserole dish with nonstick spray and arrange chicken so pieces are not touching. Bake 350 F 40-50 minutes, or until chicken is slightly browned and firm, but not hard to the touch. I recommend you start checking it after 40 minutes, and remove from oven as soon as the chicken feels firm and is slightly browned. Serve hot.
About this chicken: My husband is a basic guy when it comes to food. He is not a fan of things with goat cheese and would not have ordered this off a menu. BUT, he LOVED this chicken – goat cheese and ALL!
Au Gratin Potatoes
Béchamel sauce (approx. 2 cups)
- 1 oz. unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp. flour pinch of white pepper
- ¾ cup heavy cream 1
- ¼ cup milk
- ½ tbsp. yellow onion
- 1 ea bay leaf
- ¼ tsp. Kosher salt
- pinch of nutmeg, ground
- In a small sauce pot, melt butter over medium heat until foamy. Stir in flour and cook 30 seconds or until a roux is formed.
- Stir in cream, milk, white pepper, onion, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring often until thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in salt and nutmeg. Set aside.
Au Gratin Sauce (approx. 2 ½ cups)
- 1 tbsp. margarine
- 1/3 cups leeks, julienne, rinsed
- ½ cup Sherry wine
- 1 tbsp. garlic, chopped
- 2 cups Béchamel sauce (from above recipe)
- 2 tbsp. heavy cream
- pinch of Kosher salt
- pinch of black pepper
- pinch of white pepper
- pinch of garlic powder
- ½ cup American or Velveeta brand cheese, grated
- In a small sauce pot, sauté leeks in margarine until soft, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add sherry and reduce until almost completely evaporated.
- Stir in garlic, Béchamel sauce, heavy cream, salt, black pepper, white pepper, and garlic powder. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
- Stir in cheese until smooth. Remove from heat. Set aside.
Au Gratin Potatoes ( I am sorry I do not have a picture of the potatoes. )
- 1 ½ lbs. Idaho potatoes, cooked, cooled, peeled, sliced crossways 1/8 inch thick
- 2 ½ cups Au Gratin Sauce (from above recipe)
- ¾ cup American or Velveeta brand cheese, grated
- Cook and cool potatoes one day in advance. When completely cooled (the next day), peel and slice potatoes.
- In a mixing bowl, combine warm Au Gratin Sauce with the potatoes. Toss gently to combine.
- Pour potatoes into a nine-by-nine-inch casserole dish. Sprinkle cheese evenly over the top. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake uncovered for 15 minutes or until browned and bubbly.
- Sprinkle bacon bits on top.
I know this looks like an incredible amount of work to do for one dish of Au Gratin Potatoes – but the flavor is incredible! Remember these potatoes must be started the night before. So, you cannot wait until the last minute to make and serve.
Enjoy! Thank you for sharing your recipes each week. You inspire me!