Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Herbed chicken in puff pastry

Okay, so this is a few days belated, but the sentiment is still the same: happy December to you!  Can you believe it's here?  The month of decking the halls, wrapping presents, baking cookies, and, hey, even getting married is upon us.  All of those require a certain level of excitement and just a smidge of crazy, right?  :)

I've been working on a secret anniversary gift for Matt the past few weeks and still can't believe it's been almost a year since we said "I do."  I've been thinking about everything to do with our wedding, our first blissful year of marriage, and every single milestone along the way... even those that seem like a decade ago.

Like our first conversation.  It was at work, and I baked oatmeal cookies for my coworkers.  Matt passed me in the hall and asked if I was the baker.  "Yep!"  "Well, thank you!  These are really good."  The interaction was short and sweet (pun intended) and just enough to catch each other's eye.

Or the first time we enjoyed one another's company outside of the office.  Big deal.  We went to lunch at a local restaurant (R.I.P. Camille's Cafe on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Craig Street!), but that was still technically within the confines of the work day.

So, I tend to consider my former roommate's birthday celebration, which he and his friends joined, the real milestone.  A celebration including karaoke, to boot.  I should've realized then that only a guy who is totally smitten would be a good sport about tolerating and even encouraging two, ahem, slightly drunk girls shrieking along to Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone."

(For those of you out there wondering if I'm a karaoke enthusiast, my simple answer is hell no.  I've done it twice in my life and that's already one time too many.  I have big respect for people both gutsy and talented enough to do it regularly!)

Another all important first in our relationship is the first time I cooked dinner for Matt.  I made one of my dad's favorite recipes, sure to wow the newest man in my life.

Apparently, he was wowed because he made an honest woman out of me a few years later!  As you can see, food is kiiiiiiiiiiiiiind of a big deal in our relationship.

Though he might say it was the cookies that first got his attention, I'm convinced it was my ability to pull together a complete dinner that sealed the deal.  There's nothing better than coming together with the person you love after a long day for a satisfying meal and trading tales from your busy day.

And what could be more satisfying than a decadent chicken dinner that takes less than 10 minutes to assemble?

This is no ordinary chicken, folks.  This is the kind of chicken dish that you make to impress the heck out of parents, friends, potential suitors, or future in-laws!  It's also a great way to butter up someone before asking for a favor or an extra special gift from Santa, wink wink, nudge nudge.

Buttery and flaky puff pastry bursting with tender chicken, gorgeous spinach greens, and dreamy creamy herb and garlic cheese.  Swoon.  It's like a present waiting to to be unwrapped on your dinner plate!

From our kitchen to yours, here is my favorite kind of gift to give: one of my most cherished and delicious recipes! 

One year ago: Snickerdoodles
Two years ago: Chicken noodle soup
Three years ago: Cutout sugar cookies

Herbed Chicken in Puff Pastry
(original recipe!)
-serves 4

A few notes: Regarding the cheese, any brand will do (try Alouette or Boursin -- I've used both with great success) as long as it's creamy and spreadable.  If you're feeling fancy and not as picky about the spreadability, I think herbed goat cheese would be fantastic.  Leave a comment if you try it!  But, truly, any cheese will do, shredded, sliced, or crumbled, but it will change the flavor and creamy texture of the filling.

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 1 pound), cooked and cooled*
1 sheet (1/2 of a 17 ounce package of puff pastry), thawed
Flour, for dusting
1 egg
1 Tablespoon water
Ground black pepper
1 container (4-5 ounces) garlic and herb spreadable cheese
Handful of baby spinach leaves

*You can cook the chicken breasts ahead of time, up to 24 hours before assembling the pastry pockets.  I made mine on Sunday afternoon and cooled them in a container in the fridge overnight.  It isn't necessary to cool them for 24 hours, but you do want the chicken to be relatively cool or it will keep the puff pastry from crisping up and actually make the bottom soggy.  Simply brush the chicken breasts with olive oil, and season with pepper, and roast at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes until the centers are no longer pink.  Remove from oven, cool completely.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Beat the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork or whisk and set aside.

Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface.  Roll the pastry sheet into a 14-inch square and cut into 4 equal squares.  Spread about 2 Tablespoons of cheese spread in the center of each pastry square.  Top with a few leaves of spinach and a 1 chicken breast.  Brush the edges of the pastry squares with the egg wash.  Fold the corners of the pastry squares to the center over the chicken and press to seal.  Repeat with remaining three squares.

Place filled pastries seam-side down on baking sheet.  Brush tops of pastries with egg wash.  Bake for 25 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown.  Let the pastries cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet.  Serve and enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. This looks so good and I LOVE the stories on how you met, surrounding food of course :)