Sunday, November 1, 2009

Spinach & Artichoke Chicken



This is one of my favorites! The original recipe comes from my friend Joelen, and I've adapted it just a touch to fit my tastes. It's easy and comes together pretty quickly. Because it bakes in the oven, you can work on a side dish on the stove and they'll both be done around the same time. Genius!

Spinach & Artichoke Chicken
(Adapted from Joelen)

1 box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 14 oz. can chopped artichoke hearts, drained
1 c. water
8 oz. cream cheese
8 oz. low fat sour cream
1/4 c. low fat (or regular) mayonnaise
1/3 c. grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Breadcrumb topping:

1/4 c. panko breadcrumbs
1/4 c. grated parm

Heat oven to 350 F.

Boil spinach and artichokes in water under tender. Drain, discard liquid, and set spinach and artichokes aside.

In microwave, heat cream cheese for 30-40 seconds, until soft. Stir well, and mix in sour cream, mayo, and parmesan cheese. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and stir in garlic powder. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly. Mix together with spinach and artichokes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.

Meanwhile, lightly toast panko breadcrumbs over low heat, stirring frequently. When breadcrumbs are light-golden brown, remove from heat and mix with remaining parm.

Season chicken breasts lightly with salt and pepper. Spoon spinach and artichoke mixture over chicken and spread to cover. Sprinkle breadcrumb topping over spinach mixture and pat down lightly. Bake for 20-25 minutes until juices run clear.

OR.....

(rewind)

Before seasoning chicken with salt and pepper, butterfly the chicken breasts. Stuff lightly with spinach mixture, close up chicken breasts, and season both sides with salt and pepper. Top with breadcrumb and parm topping, and bake as above.

Notes:
  • Out of curiosity, I decided to prep my chicken both ways. I like the presentation of the stuffed chicken and I like how the mixture sort of oozes out of the chicken a little as you slice into it. But I found that you get a little more of the spinach topping if you spread the "dip" over the chicken instead of inside it, so that's my preferred method of preparation.
  • You can use low-fat or light products entirely for this, but your dip will be a little runnier. Mix in a little extra cheese to thicken it up.
  • I really love the lightness of the panko and I really love the crunch you get! It's so much more satisfying than plain ole breadcrumbs. However, panko can be hard to find in some stores (either with the breadcrumbs or in the international foods aisle) so plain breadcrumbs are fine too. Toasting them will brighten the flavor and make them taste a little richer, and it darkens their color so they look a little more "done".

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