If you prefer not to eat the skin of the chicken, remove it after cooking. Retaining the skin during the cooking process helps keep the moisture in the meat and adds very little fat.
- 1 T. butter or vegetable oil
- 1/4 c. finely chopped onion
- 1 1/2 c. finely chopped mushrooms
- 3/4 c. finely chopped celery
- 1 1/2 c. soft bread crumbs
- 1 c. cooked wild rice
- 1/2 c. dried cranberries
- 1/2 c. coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts
- 1 t. minced fresh thyme (1/2 t. dried)
- 1/2 t. minced fresh sage (1/4 t. dried)
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1/8 t. freshly ground black pepper
- 4 chicken breast halves, boned
- 2 t. vegetable oil
Heat butter or oil in a 10 or 12 inch skillet. Over medium-high heat, sauté onion until softened, about three minutes. Add mushrooms and continue cooking, stirring often, until most of the moisture has evaporated, about five minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add remaining ingredients through the pepper. Mix well to distribute the ingredients evenly.
Wash the skillet to sauté the chicken breasts.
With a sharp knife, cut a two inch slit horizontally, about one inch deep, in the center of the chicken breast. With the knife, or index finger in the slit, pull it further open to make a pocket that extends to within 1/2 inch of the edges of the meat. Fill the pocket loosely with several tablespoons stuffing. Heat oven to 350° F.
Heat the vegetable oil in the skillet over medium high heat. Place the stuffed breasts skin-side down in the hot skillet and sauté until just brown, about three to four minutes per side. Transfer the browned chicken to a shallow baking pan, and spoon the remaining stuffing beside the poultry. Cover the stuffing loosely with foil so the wild rice does not dry out. Remove the foil during the last five minutes of baking. Bake in a 350° F oven for about 20 minutes, or until the meat reaches 165° F and the tops are nicely browned.
Presentation Tip: Serve the extra stuffing in hollowed-out orange cups. It looks pretty and adds a hint of orange flavoring.
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