Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chile-Cheese-Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Chile Con Queso

OK, so this is not a traditional or authentic Mexican recipe. So sue me. If you love cheese you won't care once you've tried it, because it's just that good! And the Chile con Queso is authentic Mexican, so that kind of makes things copacetic, don't you think? Once you've made your own Chile Con Queso, you'll never want to buy that awful canned dip version from the supermarket again.

You'll want Asadero cheese for stuffing the chicken breasts, and Oaxaca or Chihuahua for the sauce (you can substitute Mozarella or Monterrey Jack if you must; for authenticity it has to be a white cheese). Asadero is also OK for the sauce, but I prefer the Oaxaca or Chihuahua for both taste and texture.

This meal is a little time consuming, but really, it's quite simple once you get the hang of it. Your family will love this, and if you're having guests over for dinner you'll knock their socks off with it. It not only tastes great, it looks great, too! (Sorry, I didn't take a picture of it for you.) Serve it with hot rice and a salad.

CHEESE-STUFFED CHICKEN BREASTS with CHILE CON QUESO
Serves 6
  • 6 boneless chicken breasts, skinned
  • 1 Cup dried bread crumbs (or Panko)
  • 1 Cup flour
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 tsp. Coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. Chile Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • Dash of Cayenne Pepper (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 6 slices Queso Asadero
  • 1 (4 oz) can diced fire-roasted green chiles, diced
  • 1/2 Cup oil for browning chicken pieces
  • 1 recipe Chile con Queso (recipe follows)
First make a breadcrumb mix by combining the crumbs with the Coriander, Cumin, Chile Powder, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder and a dash of Cayenne. Set aside.

Flatten chicken breasts by pounding them thin. This step is great for releasing stress. The way I do it is to lay out a strip of wax paper about a foot and a half long on my cutting board (or other hard surface that won't be harmed by the pounding) and then lay a strip of plastic wrap the same size over that. Place a chicken breast to one side of it and fold the the other side over the chicken. Now here's my high tech pounder: I pull a can of veggies out of the cupboard and use the side of the can to whack at the chicken until it's thin. (If the thicker part of the chicken resists the flattening, the can of veggies also makes a good rolling pin...) Of course, if you own a metal meat tenderizer, you can use the side of that to whack at the chicken, too. Pound all six pieces of chicken, then commence with the stuffing part.

Lightly salt and pepper top side of chicken as you begin to work with it. Place 1 slice of Asadero cheese in the center of each piece of chicken. On top of each slice of cheese place about a teaspoon of diced green chile. Carefully fold the chicken over the filling, tucking in the sides to completely enclose cheese and chiles. Fasten with toothpicks.

Lightly dredge chicken pockets in flour, shaking off excess, then dip in beaten egg and roll in bread crumb mix so that they are thoroughly covered. It's a messy process; don't worry about it.

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Quickly brown each piece of chicken on top and bottom. Place on a cooking sheet that has been lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake chicken in a preheated 350° oven for 30 to 40 minutes.

Remove from oven and place on warmed platter. Pour hot Chile con Queso on top and serve while it's hot.

CHILE CON QUESO:

While the chicken is baking, make the Chile con Queso. You'll need:
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 Cup chopped onion
  • 3 roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped poblano chiles, or substitute Anaheim chiles if you want the taste but no heat at all
  • 2 to 3 small jalapeno peppers, seeded, deveined, roasted and chopped (optional- this is for those who like it hot)
  • 1 medium, peeled, seeded and chopped tomato
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2/3 Cup half and half
  • 2 Cups, grated Oaxaca, Chihuahua, mozzarella, or Monterrey Jack cheese
  • Salt to taste
Roast the chiles in a heavy skillet (no oil is needed) over medium high heat until skins are well blistered. The trick here is to use enough heat so the chiles blister before they get too soft and mushy. Once blistered, put the chiles in a paper or plastic bag and allow them to sweat for about 15 minutes. They should then be easy to peel, devein and seed. Chop the chiles and set aside.

While the peppers are blistering, pop the tomato into boiling water for about 30 seconds, then immediately put it in a bowl of ice water to cool. The skin should then peel off easily. Cut the tomato into sections, scoop out the seeds and chop.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add the onions and cook until translucent but not browned. Add the chiles, tomato and oregano and cook until heated through, 2 or 3 minutes. Add the half and half, turn the heat to medium high, and bring just to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately stir in the cheese. Stir the mixture until the cheese is completely melted. Salt to taste. Serve.

Buen provecho!

If you have a favorite recipe for a Mexican or Mexican-inspired dish, I'd love to add it to our recipe box! email lahuerita2@gmail.com (and put "recipe" in the subject box so I'll know what it's about)