Chicken Breast with Crawfish Stuffing and Queso Panela Sauce

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 45 min
  • Prep: 30 min
  • Cook: 1 hr 15 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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4 tablespoons butter

1/2 pound small crawfish, shells and tails removed, diced small

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup brandy

1 tablespoon shrimp paste

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1/4 cup grated queso panela ("basket cheese", also known as queso canasta)

2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan

1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

6 (8-ounce) chicken breasts, butterflied

2 to 3 eggs, beaten

1 cup all-purpose flour, seasoned with salt and pepper

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil


1 cup chicken stock

Dash ground cloves

Dash nutmeg

1 bay leaf

1 shallot, minced

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon brandy

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1/2 cup mild salsa

2 teaspoons arrowroot whisked into 2 teaspoons water to make a slurry


  1. For the chicken: Melt butter over medium heat in a medium saute pan. Add crawfish and season with salt and pepper. Saute until they begin to turn opaque. Deglaze pan with the brandy and allow most of the liquid to evaporate. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in shrimp paste, mayonnaise, queso panela, Parmesan and bread crumbs. Lay chicken breasts out, spoon 2 tablespoons of the mixture onto each chicken breast and fold to enclose stuffing. Secure with toothpicks. Dip each stuffed chicken breast into egg mixture and roll in seasoned flour.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  3. Heat grapeseed oil over medium heat in an ovenproof skillet. Sear chicken, leaving each side undisturbed for the first few minutes to let the flour integrate into the surface of the chicken and to prevent crusting off. Transfer pan to oven and bake until chicken is fork tender, about 35 minutes.
  4. For the sauce: Bring chicken stock, cloves, nutmeg, and bay leaf to a simmer in a small saucepan. In a separate small saucepan saute the shallot in butter over medium heat until it turns translucent. Add flour to make a roux. Whisk in brandy and let cook for about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the chicken stock mixture and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for about 15 minutes to let flavors integrate and to thicken.
  5. For the salsa: Heat salsa and add arrowroot to thicken.
  6. Remove toothpicks from stuffed chicken and place in center of serving plate. Spoon about 1 tablespoon sauce over each chicken breast and top with salsa.
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