By TANYA FRITZ
Stuffed chicken breasts are surprisingly fast and always a hit with guests in both elegance and taste.
The chicken is pounded flat and therefore cooks quickly, keeping it juicy and tender. Stuff the breasts with prosciutto, goat cheese and spinach. Or substitute any thinly sliced tender meat, any melting cheese and any quick-cooking green. You could even use presliced salami and provolone in a pinch.
If you don't have a meat pounder, you can use a sturdy rolling pin to pound the breasts -- just be sure to wrap it in plastic wrap to keep it clean.
STUFFED CHICKEN BREASTS
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package (16 ounces) fresh spinach
4 boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 package (4 ounces) goat cheese, room temperature
1 package (3-4 ounces) sliced prosciutto, ham or salami
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon water
1 cup bread crumbs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic; cook 30 seconds. Add the spinach; cook, stirring, until spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove spinach to colander; drain. Press out excess water.
Place one chicken breast between two layers of plastic wrap; pound until about 1/4-inch thick. Repeat with remaining breasts. Season breasts with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste. Spread 1/4 of the goat cheese over the top of each breast; place one or two prosciutto slices over the cheese, overlapping if necessary, to cover as much of the breast as possible. Divide spinach among chicken breasts. Roll up each breast tightly, starting at the narrow end; secure each with 3 toothpicks at the seam.
Place flour in one bowl. Whisk the egg and water together in another bowl. Combine the bread crumbs, remaining salt and pepper in a third bowl. Roll the stuffed breasts in the flour, then in the egg mixture and finally in the bread crumb mixture. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in the skillet. Brown two breasts at a time, about 2 minutes per side; place on the cookie sheet. Transfer to the oven; bake until golden brown and cheese is melting, about 18 minutes.
Nutrition information per serving: 656 calories, 46 percent of calories from fat, 34 g fat, 11 g saturated fat, 197 mg cholesterol, 31 g carbohydrates, 57 g protein, 1,164 mg sodium, 3 g fiber.