On the off-chance that you haven’t lost all your teeth and aren’t blind drunk from the last several recipes I posted, here’s a little something to help abate the sugar rush. Chicken roll-ups with spinach, ricotta, mozzarella and a lemon herb butter.
While it is true I eat meat, I don’t generally cook meat for myself (unless it’s bacon, or even better than that, DUCK bacon), mostly because it’s expensive and I’m lazy. Vegetables often require minimal preparation, and even if you undercooked them you’re not liable to get sick. I, thankfully, like my bacon burnt to a crisp, to the point where it’s practically bacon dust and the kitchen is full of smoke and you can hardly see in front of your face. That’s just how I roll. Unfortunately, The BF, much like my father, cannot subsist on vegetables alone. And I am therefore, obliged to cook meat, that isn’t just bacon, once in a while.
Last week was a bit of a hectic week for The BF and I. He had just returned from a trip to find that his car, as I had been telling him for several weeks, was in rough shape. It didn’t just pull to the right, that sucker was making illegal right hand turns if you didn’t grip the wheel tight enough. Of course, I’m a woman, so what do I really know about cars? I had suggested (quite rightly) before his trip that it was probably his alignment that needed fixing. Easy-peasy, take it to the garage have them rotate the tires and tweak the alignment, they could do it on your lunch break.
He got all huffy on me, in his manly way, and jabbered on about deadlines and no time and DON’T I KNOW HE’S A BUSY MAN AND MUCH IN DEMAND. Harumph! So I let the grumples wear off on his trip and I borrowed the car for the weekend while he was out-of-town. Naturally, it’s on my watch that the check engine light goes on. I mean, really why wouldn’t it? I am a woman and that by definition means I don’t know how to drive (it’s in our users manual you get when we’re born, just check it if you don’t believe me). I mean I’ve only wrecked one car in my 10 years of driving, and that was hitting a deer. Let me tell you, deer are assholes. Just put that in your thought bank. Meanwhile, he wrecked not one but two cars, in two days. I won’t iron out the details, but I’d say if you’re judging by records, mine is a helluva lot better. Jussayin’.
So anyway, between my bitchin’ and his father’s reasoning he was finally convinced to drop his car off at the shop. And whaddyah know? The alignment needed fixing, and a whole slew of other things. All before our big trip up to Maine to go canoeing down the Saco. No big deal. So he drops his car off in hopes that it will be fixed before the trip and I call my parents to ask if I can borrow a car “just in case.”
Well, “just in case” happened. And The BF, being an optimist for once, had left all our camping gear at his parent’s house where he would have been picking up the car, on the other side of the state – completely out of our way and nowhere near my parent’s house where the car we would be using was located. So he had to make yet another trip out there to get all the camping gear. And then we had to frantically pack on Thursday and I had to make extra trips to the camping supply store on Friday. And all in all it was hectic. And The BF had a mega case of the grumples (lucky for him I find them endearing).
So, in a weak attempt to cheer him up, I offered to make dinner, especially since I knew he wouldn’t eat anything sweet I baked for him. I conveniently also had to clean out my fridge and these just happened to be the ingredients I had in there that needed getting rid of. It turned into a fabulous dish that was quite filling and I think next time I might actually go out of my way to buy the ingredients to make it, I liked it that much. The BF, naturally, has some tweaks he’d like me to make to it, and some alternate fillings, so perhaps you’ll be seeing this again with a whole new slew of ingredients.
*Just a note, the lemon herb butter was leftover from a BBQ I had a few weeks ago for the butter burgers on Epicurious (link below). If you don’t want to make it specifically for this, a simple drizzle of olive oil will work just as well and dried spices sprinkled on top (basil, tarragon, parsley, oregano would all be good choices). Also this dish is great for 2 people with about 1 1/2 roll-ups per person depending on the size of the chicken breasts, but it can also be easily increased to serve four or more people.
- 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin (or buy the thinly sliced ones)
- 2 cups baby spinach, washed and patted dry
- 3 tbsp ricotta cheese
- 6 thin slices of fresh mozzarella, or 3 tbsp shredded mozzarella
- 3 tbsp lemon herb butter, softened (recipe below)
- Preheat oven to 350° F, lightly grease a small casserole dish.
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tbsp tarragon, chopped very fine
- 1 tbsp basil, chopped very fine
- 1 tbsp parsley, chopped very fine
- finely grated zest of ½ a small lemon
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- In a bowl combine all the ingredients and mix vigorously until the herbs are thoroughly mixed in. Butter can be kept in the fridge up to 1 month in an airtight container.
- Preheat oven to 350° F, lightly grease a small casserole dish.
- Pat dry the chicken breasts and pound to about ¼" thickness between two sheets of wax paper, an actual meat hammer thinger works very well, but if you don't have one (and I don't) a wine bottle or rolling-pin also works - just be careful about the pressure. You should now have a very long thin piece of chicken that is vaguely rectangular or ovular in shape.
- Working with one breast at a time, lay the chicken cut side up (it's the rougher looking side) on a clean cutting board. Spread about ⅔ cup of spinach over the breast, going all the way to the edges. Lay the sliced mozzarella down now if you have it, two slices per piece, making sure they stay within the short edges of the piece of chicken (if they drape over the long edges that's fine). Then spread 1 tbsp of ricotta cheese over the mozzarella.
- If you don't have fresh mozzarella then reverse the order. Spread 1 tbsp of ricotta first and then sprinkle 1 tbsp of mozzarella over top (this is just to make spreading the ricotta a little easier, it's harder to do over loose spinach AND shredded cheese).Season with pepper.
- Starting with one of the short edges, roll your chicken up like a tortilla trying to keep the spinach in place as best as possible (this is why the fresh mozzarella is good, it anchors the spinach). Place the rolled chicken seam side down in the casserole dish. Repeat with the remaining chicken. If your chicken doesn't fill the entire casserole dish and they start to spread a little, you can use a toothpick inserted through the bottom at an angle by the seam to hold it all together.
- Once in the casserole dish rub 1 tbsp of lemon herb butter over each breast, making sure to cover the entire top. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is oozing and the chicken is a light golden brown.