Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chicken Roulade a la Ultra Wife

I really can't complain these days. I work long hours at a job with sweet coworkers that I happen to really like. The bigger half likewise has a job with coworkers that he thinks are pretty chill. These are all good things. Jobs are a blessing these days. Unfortunately for us, the one minus is that I've got long hours, and he works a whole bunch of nights and weekends, so our time together is limited. He's actually working a double right now, and I'm spending a Sunday watching a Cops marathon, though I can't imagine why... that show sucks. So, I decided that when he gets home late tonight, I'm going to have a hell of a feast waiting for him, featuring a Soused Blueberries original. I think he'll be pretty darn happy with me... or so I hope.
Pounded out chicken breast
Today, I'm making a chicken roulade with a sweet/savory goat cheese filling. 
Start out with 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap onto a cutting board, and one of the chicken breasts on top of the wrap. Lay the palm of your hand on top of the chicken breast, and with a knife, cut through the chicken breast lengthwise, gingerly and gently so that you're basically cutting the breast into a book-like piece of meat with an hinge left on one long side. After successfully reducing the width of the breast by half, open up the two halves, and proceed to put another piece of plastic wrap. Then, tap the chicken repeatedly with a meat mallet so that the breast is thinned to about a quarter of an inch. Repeat this process with the other chicken breasts and you have your "wrapping" for the roulade. Set the four breasts onto a plate (still in the plastic wrap) and throw them in the fridge to avoid germage while you prepare the filling.
Filling ingredients
This filling is solely based on what I had available and what I found at my local grocer, Milk and Honey of Salem. I started out by dicing a half of a red onion, and leaving the bits to sweat out in a little skillet with a tablespoon of butter. I also took this opportunity to roughly chop about a cup and half of baby spinach, and a few nice looking leaves of Italian flat leaf parsley. The market, to my surprise, had some really pretty little figs available, so I took the dried sweet morsels and roughly chopped approximately seven of those. I also had about a quarter cup of pine nuts, and let those toast up in a skillet on the stove for a few moments. When all of this was prepped and the onion and pine nuts had cooled a bit, I threw all of the ingredients into a large mixing bowl, added a 5 oz package of softened goat cheese, and about three tablespoons of ricotta. After stirring for a few minutes until all the cheese, greens and nuts were evenly distributed, I took a taste and added couple dashes of salt and a bit of cracked pepper. This one is going to be good. The filling then went into the fridge for about twenty minutes to firm up a little bit so everything is easier to roll up in each chicken breast. 
Time to roll
It's roulade time. This is perhaps the most intimidating part of the whole process, but it's simple. Think burrito. Remove the top piece of plastic wrap from your squished chicken. Take about three tablespoons or so of the filling, and dollop into the center of the flattened meat. To wrap, tuck in the ends, and roll up. The most important part of this is to try to seal up the filling the best that you can. After you've rolled each chicken roulade, go ahead and wrap with plastic wrap, and stick in the fridge to further firm up until it's time to dredge, brown and bake.
Ready for the stove
Browning on the stove
So, it's time? First preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Now, dredge each roulade in a bit of flour, and heat up a couple tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat in a large skillet. When the oil is hot, go ahead and brown each roulade on each side, ensuring that the roll is sealed and the filling isn't leaking out all over the joint. After browning, remove to a baking sheet and throw everything into the oven for about 20 minutes. Remove and let rest so that, again, the filling doesn't ooze out all over the joint.
Post baking, ready for slicing
And that's it. Chicken roulade. The filling was creamy and sweet, a nice kiss of flavor from those delicate figs. The spinach served as a nice filler, and your daily dose of veggies, not to mention there was the lovely toasted textural element of those earthy pine nuts. For classic presentation, you can slice into evenly sized rounds. I chose to also prepare a simple mustard and shallot lentil side dish and some roasted asparagus to round out a decadent dinner. 

Chicken roulade with spinach,
goat cheese, fig, and pine nut
filling with lentils and
4 chicken breasts, pounded out
1/2 of one red onion, diced
1 /2 cups baby spinach
7 figs
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon Italian flat leaf parsley
5 oz goat cheese
3 tablespoons ricotta
salt, pepper
flour for dredging
olive oil for browning

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