Since it’s my birthday week, and I have a ridiculous and psychotic love of all things chicken, this week we are focusing on chicken recipes. Not only do I love to eat chickens, I also think they are adorable. I know most people think they are dirty and only good as a main course. A few years ago, I got a book called “Extraordinary Chickens” by Stephen Green-Armytage, and the images in it would change those people’s minds.
I never knew chickens could be so fancy! The patterns and colors of their feathers, as well as the unusual shapes of their crests, beards, and combs somehow showcase facets of their little bird personalities. You’ve heard of crazy cat ladies…well, meet the crazy chicken lady, ME. M loves to point out the incongruity between my love of live chickens and my love of eating their corpses. What can I say? I’m a complicated lady.
This recipe in particular is one of my favorites. I found it in a little bonus recipe booklet from “Better Homes and Gardens” years ago and have made it many times since. Rolling and securing the completed rolls with the toothpicks AND making them look nice is the hardest part. I used probably way too many toothpicks, but the dish did look like the picture when finished. My only note would be to use the same amount of toothpicks in each roll to make it easier to remember when you have to take them out. Once cooked, these will hold their shape without the toothpicks. I also put a small bowl of melted preserves on the side for anyone who wanted to dip. For the couscous side, we used Near East Parmesan and followed the directions on the box. Its a delicious change from rice or potatoes and takes only 5 minutes to prepare.
The recipe serves 4, and since its from an official site, we get the bonus of nutritional information: Cal. 324, total fat 16g, cholesterol 62mg, saturated fat 3g, carbohydrates 23g, fiber 1g, protein 24g, vitamin A 437 IU, vitamin C 1mg, sodium 382mg, calcium 71mg, iron 2mg.
Better Homes and Gardens dish:
M and m’s dish:
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- 1/3 cup dried apricots
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, quartered
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (1 pound)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup apricot preserves, melted
- For pesto, in a blender or food processor, combine basil, apricot halves, pecans, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and garlic.
- Cover and blend or process with several on-off turns until a paste forms, stopping the machine several times and scraping the sides.
- Rinse chicken; pat dry with paper towels.
- Place each chicken breast half between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Working from the center to the edges, pound lightly with the flat side of a meat mallet to 1/8 inch thickness. Remove plastic wrap.
- Sprinkle chicken with salt. Spread pesto on each chicken breast.
- Fold in sides of each piece; roll up from short end into a spiral, pressing edges to seal. Secure with wooden toothpicks.
- Place the chicken on the rack of an uncovered grill. Grill directly over medium coals for 18 to 20 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink, turning once halfway through grilling time.
- Microwave preserves to melt.
- Brush with preserves the last 5 minutes of grilling.
- Before serving, remove all toothpicks. (Your guests will thank you.)