I am always looking for ideas on how to use chicken for a dinner party but make it look expensive and restaurant style. It's not that easy but not too difficult either. I always use images for my Facebook updates and while looking for a particular image online I came across a food photo with a chicken dish where the breast was rolled up with some kind of stuffing. My braincells did some overtime and I went to the shop to find anything I could stuff a chicken breast with. I have to admit, I found it in Tesco - they had a special offer for sausages as part of their Irish Home Grown campaign and I opted for the Garlic & Basil sausages, got some extra basil and went home with some chicken breasts.
I have cooked rolled up chicken before but stuffing was chicken meat (I know, not very adventurous) so making a full stuffing for it was a new one to me. I wanted it to look like the photo - elegant and sliced and arranged on a bed of something (I couldn't identify what the photo had so decided on a leek risotto) - so the stuffing couldn't be crumbly but I didn't want it too smooth either - I still wanted texture.
Most stuffings start with breadcrumbs and I just made breadcrumbs from my bread that went a bit stale. I decided to fry the sausage meat so that some of the fat would soak out and also, to avoid becoming pasty in the stuffing. The result was fantastic although had to cook it twice as I didn't rest the chicken after being rolled up and it fell apart. Also, the sauce needs to top the chicken or you will have to turn it a few times to avoid the top drying out. But I have to say, I would be happy seeing this dish in any restaurant :-) Chez Elke (blowing my own trumpet)
4 chicken breasts, skinned and boned
4 garlic & basil sausages (or any other good quality sausages)
handful of fresh breadcrumbs
Grated Parmesan cheese (use to taste)
handful of basil, chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
a dash of Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp harissa (I used my own one, it's optional)
For the sauce
2 tbsp butter
50g bacon, chopped
2 shallots( quartered)
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
2-3 tbsp plain flour
600ml chicken stock
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp Sherry
Leek Risotto to serve
Skin the sausages and fry the sausage meat in a non-stick pan over a medium heat until the fat starts to leak and the sausage meat starts to brown slightly. Remove from pan and drain on paper towel. Set aside and cool.
Butterfly each chicken (click here to watch how to butterfly a chicken breast - easier than to explain it). Place it between 2 sheets of cling film. Using a meat mallet (flat side), pound the chicken breast to a bit less than 1cm, taking care not to break the meat.
Combine the cooked sausage meat with the breadcrumbs, herbs, Parmesan, Harissa and Worcestershire Sauce and mix well. Be careful with adding any additional seasoning as you got quite a bit going on here. Lay each chicken breast on a piece of clean cling film with a short end facing you. Spread 1/4 of the filling over the centre of each chicken breast, making sure not to spread it too close to the edge. Starting with the side closest to you, roll the chicken up around the filling, making sure to pull the clingfilm tight. Roll all the way up, making sure that the filling doesn't squeeze out. When completely rolled up, tie the clingfilm tightly up so that you end up with a sausage form. Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours to ensure that the form has set. You can also do this the day before.
While the chicken is in fridge, prepare the sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan. Fry the bacon for a few minutes, you don't want it to get crispy. Add the chopped vegetables and continue to cook for a further 5-6 minutes just until everything starts to turn a golden colour.
Stir in the flour and cook, stirring all the time, for a few minutes until the 'rawness' is gone from the flour and it starts to turn brown - making sure not to burn the mix. Remove the pan from the heat and start adding the stock, stirring all the time until the flour has dissolved. Return to the heat and bring to a boil, stirring until the sauce thickens. Add the tomato puree and the Sherry, season to taste. Reduce the heat and gently simmer for 40-60 mins. Stirring occasionally. The sauce can be made ahead for up to 3 days.
Strain the sauce through a sieve, squeezing the vegetables to get all the flavour.
Pre-heat oven to 160C
Take the chicken out of the fridge and remove the clingfilm. The chicken should hold its shape. Oil an oven-proof dish and place the chicken rolls in it. Drizzle with olive oil and rub the oil all over to make sure that the chicken is moist. Place the dish into the oven and roast for about 10 mins. Pour the sauce over the chicken. If it doesn't cover the chicken whole, you will have to turn it halfway through the cooking process. Bake for 10 mins. Remove from the oven and slice each roll into 4 slices.
Served arranged on a bed of leek risotto or plain rice.