Mushroom & pepper-stuffed chicken breast with pasilla chili sauce

  • For chicken breasts:
  • 6 medium chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced onion
  • ½ lb. fresh mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ cup roasted red bell peppers, chopped (from a jar is fine)
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped

For sauce:

  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. shallots, minced
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 2 cups good chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp. pasilla chili powder (or other mild, fruity chili powder)
  • ¼ cup cream
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. each, fresh parsley and cilantro, finely chopped

Carefully make a pocket in each chicken breast in the following manner: Place a chicken breast onto a clean work surface and place one of your hands on top of it. With your other hand, take a sharp thin knife (like a boning knife) and carefully slide it down into the chicken breast, being careful not to break through the meat. Bring the blade down the length of the chicken breast and then carefully slide the blade along the curved side of the breast to enlarge a pocket inside. Try not to enlarge the entrance hole too much as filling may come out during cooking. Repeat this process with all the chicken breasts, cover them with plastic and then set them aside in the refrigerator.

Make the filling: Melt the butter in a medium non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Sauté the onions until they have browned slightly, then add the mushrooms, another pinch of salt and a quick grinding of fresh pepper. Sauté mushrooms and onions till mushroom juices have evaporated and mushrooms are lightly browned. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature in a medium bowl. Stir in chopped, roasted peppers and the parsley, set aside.

Make the sauce: Melt the butter in a medium non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and sauté until they are lightly browned. Add the wine and reduce by half, then add the chicken stock. Simmer stock mixture by half, then add the pasilla chili powder and the cream. Continue to simmer and reduce till sauce is nicely thickened, then remove from heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper, add the herbs, then set aside, covered.

While sauce is reducing, stuff the chicken breasts. The easiest way would be to fill a heavy duty zip lock bag (cut the corner off) or pastry bag with the mushroom-pepper filling and to pipe the filling into each breast. Use a small butter knife to gently push filling down into the breast pocket if necessary. Be careful of over-filling the chicken breasts. Once all the chicken breasts are filled, cover a sheet pan with foil. Heat a small amount of peanut oil in a large sauté pan over high heat and sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper on all sides. Brown the breasts 3 at a time on their top sides, removing them when they are nicely browned. Turn them browned side up as they are placed onto the prepared sheet pan. Once they are all browned, place them in a pre-heated 400 degree F oven for 15 minutes or until cooked through but not dry. Remove from oven, cover lightly with foil and let rest 5 minutes or so until sauce is warmed. (Use any extra chicken juices in the sauce.

Quickly slice each chicken breast on the diagonal so the filling shows nicely. Place each breast on a warmed serving plate. Now pour a large spoonful of the Pasilla Sauce over each one and serve immediately.* Makes 6 servings.

*Suggested side dishes: Simple black beans, basmati rice, simple mashed potatoes, polenta, etc.

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