Breast of Chicken with Herb and Cumin Filling and Thyme Sauce
Chicken is new again with a wonderful stuffing of butter, herbs, and bread crumbs scented with cumin. It is served on a buttery sauce with thyme. This is a dish that makes you rethink common ingredients. Chef O’Callaghan cuts and shapes his own chicken breasts: he leaves a large flap of skin at the large end, and leaves the wing on the breast. He cuts off the first joint of the wing and clears the meat from the second joint, leaving the cleaned bone. The meat is left on the join nearest the breast. While breasts without wings will work fine, you will need to have extra skin at the large end of the breast to wrap around and hold the stuffing.
- Olive Oil - 1 tablespoon
- Small onion - 1, finely chopped
- Garlic Cloves - 2, peeled and crushed
- Unsalted Butter - 10, ounces, cut into pieces
- Fresh bread crumbs - 1-1/4 cup
- Cumin Powder - 1/2 teaspoon
- Salt - 1 teaspoon
- freshly ground white pepper - 1/2 teaspoon
- Parsley - 1 bunch, stemmed and chopped
- Thyme Sprigs - 2 , stemmed and chopped
- Tarragon - 2 , stemmed and chopped
- Chicken Breasts - 8, medium, skin on
- Olive Oil - 2 tablespoons
- Unsalted Butter - 6 tablespoons
- Dry white wine - 1-1/4 cups
- Brown chicken stock - 6 cups
- Thyme Sprigs - 1, stemmed and chopped
- Unsalted Butter - 4 , cut into chunks
- Unsalted Butter - 8 tablespoons
- Baby Beets - 24, with leaves attached, blanched
- Baby Zucchini - 8, with blossoms attached, blanched
- Baby Yellow Summer Squash - 8, with blossoms attached, blanched
- Baby Snap Peas - 32, blanched
- Thyme Sprigs - 8
To make the stuffing: Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened but not colored, about 1 minute. Add the butter pieces and melt, then stir in the bread crumbs, cumin, salt, and pepper. Add the chopped herbs and mix well. Place the stuffing in a bowl and cool to room temperature; cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Lay the chicken breasts on a work surface. Remove any excess fat from under the flap at the thick end of each breast. Divide the stuffing into 8 parts and roll each into a ball. One at a time, shape a ball into a cylinder until it is the width of your palm. Insert your index finger between the skin and the flesh of a breast, taking care not to puncture a hole, and press a stuffing cylinder into the space. Shape it back into a round shape by gently working it through the skin after it is inserted. Wrap the overhanging skin around the end of the breast and tuck under, then fold the breast in half, enclosing the flap. Set aside. Repeat with all breasts. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Heat the oil and butter in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat and brown the breasts on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Spoon the oil-butter mixture over the breasts as they cook. Place in the oven for 15 minutes; the breasts are done when the juices run clear. Remove from the oven and set the breasts on a rack to rest for 8 minutes.
Use the chicken skillet and its juices for the sauce; be careful because it is hot!
To make the sauce: Drain the fat from the skillet used for the chicken and place the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the wine and cook, stirring up the browned bits, deglazing the pan. Cook until the wine has been reduced to 1/4 cup. Add the chicken stock and cook until reduced to 1-3/4 cups. Stir in the chopped thyme and butter.
To prepare the garnishes: Over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in each of four separate pans. Add the beets to one pan, zucchini to another, yellow squash to a third, and snap peas to the last. Baste the vegetables as they warm in the butter to glaze them. Cook just enough to warm through.
To serve: Pool sauce on the serving plates. Divide the vegetables among the plates and place on the sauce. Slice the breasts in half diagonally. On each plate, place one breast half flat on the vegetables and sauce, the other half resting upon it, showing the stuffing. Glaze the breasts with more sauce. Garnish each with a sprig of thyme.