From America's Test Kitchen Season 9: Four-Star Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Most American cooks stuff chicken breasts with cheesy, bready fillings. French chefs, on the other hand, use a forcemeat stuffing to transform ordinary chicken breasts into a four-star affair. The French technique requires some serious labor, and includes skinning and boning a whole chicken, stuffing the breasts with the leg meat, and wrapping them up in the skin. We wanted to achieve the same flavorful package of chicken and filling—using a much simpler procedure.
Starting with boneless, skinless chicken breasts eliminated the need to bone a whole chicken. We mimicked a forcemeat stuffing by trimming a bit of meat from each chicken breast, and combining the meat with mushrooms, herbs, and leeks. (And pureeing the meat trimmings created a cohesive filling that stayed put inside the chicken breasts.)
Turning to the mechanics, we needed to create easy-to-roll rectangles of chicken breast to encase the stuffing. After butterflying the chicken breasts, we pounded them thin and trimmed them into a rectangular shape. The stuffing was easy to spread on the breasts, which we simply rolled up and tied with twine. Finally, we browned the chicken in a hot skillet and then added chicken broth and wine to braise the meat in the pan. Not only did the chicken stay tender when simmered, but the liquid served as a base for a simple yet intensely flavored pan sauce.
Serves 4 to 6
If your chicken breasts come with the tenderloin attached, pull them off (see “Removing Chicken Tenderloins” below) and reserve them to make the puree in step 1. If necessary, trim these breasts to make uniform rectangles and to yield 1 1/2 to 2 ounces total trimmings per breast. Because the stuffing contains raw chicken, it is important to check its temperature in step 5.