Friday, 1 August 2014

Cottage Cheese Stuffed Grilled Chicken Breasts

This week has been an interesting one in the kitchen. I experimented with some new techniques of cooking some conventional dishes and the results are for all to see. The food was delicious, healthy, and interesting as well and leaves you without any craving for all those not-so-healthy sinful food which otherwise keep tempting you when you are on a controlled diet! Now that weekend is approaching and I have given myself the liberty to indulge, here is another healthy chicken grill stuffed with cottage cheese and a mix of bell peppers and spring onions. The stuffing is actually the same as the Paneer Quesadillas I made the other day with the addition of spring onions. You can use any stuffing for the chicken but try and include the paneer as it keeps the chicken juicy from inside and gives a rich taste to the entire dish.
2 chicken breasts washed and cleaned
A handful of toothpicks 

For the marinade
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp garlic chopped/grated
1 tsp red chilli flakes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp oregano
Salt to taste

For the stuffing
1/2 cup paneer roughly crumbled with your hands
1/2 medium onion chopped
1/2 small tomato chopped
1/4 cup mixed bell peppers chopped
1 sprig coriander leaves chopped
1 green chilli chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp freshly crushed black pepper powder
Salt to taste
Grated cheddar cheese (quantity depends on how cheesy you like it. I used about 1 tbsp per chicken breast)
1 tsp olive oil

For the chicken breasts' marination
Take the washed and cleaned chicken breasts and with a big edged knife, slit open the breasts from one side just until you reach the other side without slitting it apart completely. This called butterflying the breasts. Now put this chicken breast, slit folded, sandwiched between two aluminium foils or cling wrap and beat with a rolling pin to flatten it a bit, especially in the area where it is most meaty. A uniformly thick chicken breast will ensure uniform cooking and more space for the stuffing. Alternatively, you can get this done from a local butcher while buying the chicken. 
Now, mix all the ingredients listed under marinade and rub this with the chicken breasts. Keep everything (breasts and the marinade) inside a ziplock bag and keep it overnight or for a minimum of 2-3 hours.
Now prepare the filling. Heat oil in a pan and fry the onions till translucent. Add the chillies and tomato and fry till soft. Now add the bell peppers and cook till just done. Add the fresh coriander and spring onions and the spices and salt and mix well. Switch off the flame and add the crumbled paneer or cottage cheese. We do not want to cook the paneer. Let the mixture remain in the hot pan with the flame off. This heat is sufficient to soften the paneer. Let it cool on its own.
Now take the marinated chicken breasts on a plate with its wings open. Take care not to tear apart the wings. Spread half of the mixture on one of the wings and cover with cheese. Do not overload the breast with a lot of the stuffing, else the edges won't seal while folding in the other wing.
Fold in the other wing. Break a toothpick into two and start sealing the edges by pricking the toothpicks into the edges. Use as many as you want to ensure a leakproof stuffed breast. Repeat for the other breast.
Pre heat the oven at maximum temperature for 20 minutes minimum. Prepare your baking tray by lining it with aluminium foil. Now place the grill on top of the tray and place the chicken breasts.  The aluminium foil will catch whatever juices drip from the chicken and help you to keep the baking tray clean. Drizzle a little olive oil on top and grill the chicken for 10-15 minutes on one side first and then flip and another 10 minutes on the other side. The chicken will be cooked in the initial 10-15 minutes. However, it will most likely not get tanned or browned during that time. To get it browned, switch the top rod only for a few minutes on each side at maximum temperature. Keep a very close watch while doing this, else you will end up with dry burnt chicken. Also, everytime you flip, you can brush the top with a little butter or olive oil. However, if looks do not matter to you, you can just remove it from the oven once you flip the other side and bake it for 10 minutes and without going into the high temperature top rod grilling. 
Alternatively, you can also pan fry the breasts in a little olive oil till golden on both the sides. Even on the pan, cook the breasts covered on medium flame for 10-15 minutes and then increase to high for 3-4 minutes on each side. Serve hot with onion rings!

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