Cran-Apple Stuffed Chicken Breasts and Pasta Risotto

Cran-apple stuffed Chicken Breasts 2
A supermarket had a sale on boneless chicken breasts, and a woman I know  intended to stock up. At the store, however, she was disappointed to find only a  few skimpy prepackaged portions of the poultry, so she complained to the  butcher. “don’t worry, ya, ” he said. “I’ll pack some more trays and have them  ready for you by the time you finish shopping.” Several aisles later, my friend  heard the butcher’s voice boom over the public-address system: “Will the lady  who wanted bigger breasts please meet me at the back of the store.”
Some days things just come together 2 hours before dinner and come out just perfect.  With no real recipe or dinner plan in mind and suffering from “cooker’s block” after a busy long holiday weekend I took out the old standby, chicken breasts (bone-in) and figured that I could manage something by dinner time.  My first thought an oven roasted with oranges recipe that we enjoyed some time back, but no oranges and so it went with every other idea until I spied the dried fruit and a bag of Pepperidge farm herb stuffing mix.  Bottled apple juice would be the liquid for the dressing a minced shallot, a minced celery rib, diced apple and dried cranberries were the main add-ins for the stuffing.    Since I was making this up and only stuffing two huge chicken breasts I didn’t measure a thing.   A last-minute pan sauce with an additional minced shallot, chicken broth and a little butter would be perfect to drizzle over the stuffed chicken.   Take a look around for “how to pan sear and oven roast a chicken breasts” or here is a simple video:

I cut a pocket into the thickest side of the chicken breast, seasoned the whole thing with salt and pepper and filled the pocket with stuffing.  The chicken breasts that I had were rather large and would serve 3-four easily and the roasting time depends on the size of the chicken breasts so a thermometer would be a handy thing to have.

Cran-apple Stuffing

Now for the most fabulous mac n’ cheese from Dorie Greenspan.  I have no words and no pictures as the pasta was gone in a flash.

Pasta Risotto Serves: 2 as a Main or 4 as a Side; Total Time: 45 minutes

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3¾ cups chicken broth (or 3¾ cups water and 2 chicken bouillon cubes)
1 1/3 cups tubetti (my preference) or elbow macaroni (traditional)
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
3½ tablespoons mascarpone

What to do:

1. Melt butter in a large skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat. Toss in onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. (Or, if you’d like, go ahead and cook the onion until it’s golden.) Pour in chicken broth or water and bring to a boil; if you’re using bouillon cubes, drop them in now and stir to dissolve. Add pasta, stir it around, and let it cook at a steady simmer until it has absorbed almost all the broth, 20 to 25 minutes. (There should be just ¼ inch or less of liquid bubbling at the bottom of the pan.)

2. Pour in cream and allow it to simmer for about 3 minutes, until it thickens slightly. Stir in Parmesan and mascarpone, cook for 1 minute, and taste for salt and pepper (it should be generously peppered). Pull the pan from the heat, cover, and let rest for 3 minutes before serving.  Serve with a little parsley (optional) and more grated cheese.