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Baked Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Arugula and Fontina

Arugula has a peppery, slightly bitter bite and a delicate, tender texture. In this simple stuffing, it is matched with fontina, which adds a richness and mild nuttiness. The panko coating cooks to a crisp, light finish in the hot oven, delivering a perfect counterpoint to the creamy melted cheese at the heart of each roll.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
  • 5 oz. fontina cheese, preferably fontina Val d'Aosta
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, each about 7 oz.
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 16 arugula leaves, tough stems removed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled
  • 1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges

Directions:

Position a rack in the upper third of an oven and preheat to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Trim off and discard the rind from the cheese. Cut the cheese into four 2-by-1 1/2-inch rectangles about 1/8 inch thick.

Using a flat meat pounder, pound each chicken breast half until flattened to an even thickness of about 1/4 inch. Season the chicken breasts with the salt and pepper.

Place 1 chicken breast, with the long side facing you, on the work surface. Top with one-fourth of the garlic and 4 arugula leaves, torn as needed to fit the breast half, leaving a 1-inch border uncovered on all sides. Top with a piece of cheese. Starting at a short end, roll up the breast, tucking in the arugula as needed; set seam side down. Repeat with the remaining chicken, garlic, arugula and cheese.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. In a shallow dish, stir together the bread crumbs, oregano and rosemary. One at a time, coat a rolled chicken breast with the egg mixture and then roll in the bread crumbs, coating evenly. Place the breaded breasts, seam side down, on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Place the oiled baking dish in the oven and heat until very hot, about 3 minutes. Carefully arrange the breaded breasts, seam side down, in the hot dish. Drizzle evenly with the remaining 1 Tbs. oil. Bake until the bread crumbs are golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of a stuffed breast registers 170°F, 25 to 35 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a carving board. Cut each stuffed breast crosswise into slices about 1/2 inch thick and transfer to warmed individual plates. Serve immediately, and pass the lemon wedges at the table. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Chicken, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2008).