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Pressed Chicken Breasts with Dried Cherries

Pressing the meat during and after roasting intensifies the sweet-tart nature of the cherry-stuffed chicken breasts. Their pretty red centers are revealed when the slices are arranged on a platter.

Ingredients:

  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, each
      6 to 7 oz.
  • 1 cup pitted dried sweet cherries
  • 2 large shallots, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. dried summer savory
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, or to taste
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs

Directions:

Working with 1 chicken breast half at a time, place the meat flat on a cutting board. Holding the meat firmly in place, use a small, sharp knife to cut a horizontal slit down 1 side and through the center of the meat, leaving 3 sides uncut.

Spoon one-eighth of the dried cherries into each pocket. Firmly press on each breast with your hand to flatten the meat and seal the edges together. Arrange in a single layer in a nonaluminum dish.

In a small bowl, stir together the shallots, lemon juice, olive oil, lemon zest, summer savory, thyme, salt and pepper. Spoon the shallot mixture evenly over the chicken breasts. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or for up to 24 hours.

Preheat a broiler. Transfer the chicken to a broiler pan, reserving the marinade, and place under the broiler about 4 inches from the heat source. Broil until the meat is browned on top, 4 to 5 minutes.

While the chicken is browning, pour the reserved marinade into a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil and remove from the heat.

Remove the chicken from the broiler. Set the oven at 375°F. Transfer the chicken pieces to a shallow baking dish large enough to hold them in a single layer. Pour the marinade over the meat and set another baking dish directly on top of the meat. Roast until the juices run clear when the meat is pierced at the thickest point, 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and set 2 or 3 heavy cans or 1 or 2 bricks in the top (empty) baking dish to weight it down. Let rest for at least 20 minutes or for up to 30 minutes before serving.

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and cut across the grain into slices. Arrange on a warmed platter, revealing the cherry stuffing. Spoon the dish juices over the top. Garnish with parsley.
Serves 6 to 8.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Everyday Roasting, by Janeen Sarlin (Time-Life Books, 1998).