- 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, 6 to 8 ounces each, patted dry
- Essence, recipe follows
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 ounces Gouda, cut into 4 index finger-sized pieces about 2-inches by 3/4-inches
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Fresh Tomato Sauce, recipe follows
- Herbed Orzo with Peas, recipe follows
- Chopped parsley, garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Spread a sheet of plastic wrap flat on the work surface. Place 1 chicken breast in the center of the sheet and top with another sheet of plastic. Gently pound it with the flat side of a meat mallet (or the bottom of a small skillet or saucepan) until very thin, about 1/8-inch thick. Repeat with the remaining chicken breasts.
Lightly season the chicken on both sides with Essence, salt, and pepper.
Lay a piece of Gouda in the center of each chicken breast. Tuck the short ends of the chicken in and roll up the long ends, jellyroll fashion, to enclose the cheese completely. Secure each breast diagonally with a wooden toothpick, as needed.
In a shallow bowl, combine the flour with 1 teaspoon Essence. In another bowl, beat the egg with the water. In a third bowl, combine the breadcrumbs with 1 teaspoon of Essence.
In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the oil and melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook, turning, until browned on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes. (If not an ovenproof skillet, transfer to a baking dish.) Place in the oven and bake until the chicken is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and remove the toothpicks. Slice each breast into 3/4-inch rounds.
Spoon the orzo into the center of each of 4 large dinner plates and arrange the sliced breasts along the orzo. Top the chicken with the tomato sauce and garnish with chopped parsley.
Fresh Tomato Sauce:
1 1/2 pounds ripe plum or heirloom tomatoes, cored, seeded, and roughly chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
Transfer to a glass bowl and adjust the seasoning to taste. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature.
Yield: 4 servings
Herbed Orzo with Peas:
8 ounces orzo pasta
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped green onions
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the peas and cook until tender, about 1 minute. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Drain well.
In a large bowl, toss the pasta with the oil and lemon juice. Add the green onions, parsley, and basil and toss to combine. Add salt to taste.
Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.
Yield: 4 servings