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Taking chicken beyond the ordinary

This is a recipe that can carry you through a holiday dinner party, a romantic date night, or even a “special” regular weeknight dinner. It is easy, it is straight forward, and the ingredients can effortlessly be substituted with your favourite fillings. Sun dried cherries are a bit of a luxury item for this time of year. They are not as tart and in-your-face as cranberries, but they cut the richness of the brie perfectly. They can be found at most bulk stores; buy a few extra and put them on your Christmas cheeseboard.

Let’s talk about substitutions. In this recipe we have used brie, dried cherries and prosciutto. You may prefer goat’s cheese or sharp Asiago and you can use any dried fruit you like. Prosciutto can be substituted with Speck (smoked German ham) or a thinly sliced black forest ham. Do your best to always use fresh herbs, as they really do make a difference in the overall flavour and aroma of your finished dish.

Chicken with Brie, Sun-dried Cherries and Prosciutto

  • 4 5-6 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4-lb wedge of firm brie cheese, sliced in 4 long pieces
  • 1/4-cup sun-dried cherries or dried cranberries
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme, de-stemmed and chopped
  • 4 large slices of prosciutto
    (it’s nice to splurge on the Prosciutto di Parma from Vincenzo’s – bigger slices as well)
  • 1 tbsp each butter and oil

Butterfly each chicken breast by placing one hand firmly on top of the whole breast and, with a sharp knife in the other hand, slice the chicken breast horizontally from one end to the other, but not cutting it in half completely.  It should open like a book.  Season each breast by sprinkling with salt and pepper;

On the inside bottom of each breast place a piece of the brie cheese and about 6-8 dried cherries on top of the brie; sprinkle thyme evenly over each breast; fold the top of the breast over the cheese;

Lay prosciutto slices down on the work surface; place a chicken breast at the bottom of each slice and wrap prosciutto around chicken breast, forming a secure ‘belt’ around them;

Heat a heavy pan over medium-high heat; melt butter and add oil. When both are hot (butter has stopped sizzling) add chicken breasts. Do this in batches if pan does not hold them all;

Brown one side, about 3 minutes, lowering heat if pan begins to smoke; turn over and cook other side for another 3 minutes. Continue with remaining chicken, then place on a non-stick baking sheet;

Finish cooking in a 350°F oven for about 5 minutes, or until firm to the touch;

Some of the brie cheese may have oozed out during cooking – don’t let this go to waste! Place chicken on a hot platter and drizzle cheese and collected juices over chicken.

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