This recipe is a classic example of cooking by feel. I had some goat cheese left over from an appetizer, and I found fresh, green garlic at the farmer's market. So I came up with a way to use them together — stuffed inside some bone-in chicken breasts.
It's really remarkable the way a little garlic and goat cheese can transform a plain and unglamorous chicken breast!
I often roast bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts when I'm not up for handling an entire bird. You get the same flavor and crispy skin but it's a bit more manageable.
My typical method for cooking these breasts involves shoving something under the skin — butter mixed with herbs, usually — and rubbing the skin with butter or olive oil, seasoning liberally with salt and pepper, and roasting in the oven.
For this dish, I did the same thing, putting spoonfuls of goat cheese under the skin. But I also cut a deep slit in the side of the breast and stuffed cheese in there, too. That way, each bite had a little goat cheese and garlic in it.
This recipe is not something I would usually make, so I think I'm a pretty good candidate to review it! I don't bake bone-in chicken pieces very often, and stuffing a chicken breast sounded fussy and a little tedious to me.
But I followed Elizabeth's instructions, struck by how few ingredients go into this recipe and how quickly it came together. You could put this chicken in the oven in under 10 minutes. I also remembered how easy it is to stuff chicken breasts. Just cut a slit (anywhere, really) and cram in what you can. Sure, there are prettier methods, but as long as you get in the cheese in the meat, you'll be fine.
The real revelation with this recipe, though, was when I ate it. It was so delicious! The chicken turned out juicy and tender, not overcooked. The skin was crisp, and the goat cheese had somehow permeated every bite, carrying garlicky aroma and the taste of the lemon with it.
This is a fantastic weeknight meal, one that still feels a bit special, and I'll certainly be returning to it. — Faith
Stuffing Chicken Breasts: A Closer Look
There are several different ways to stuff a chicken breast. When working with soft cheese like I am here, most methods will work pretty well. I started by pulling back and loosening the skin.
Roasted Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Goat Cheese & Garlic
2 ounces soft goat cheese
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced (about 1/2 teaspoon zest and 1 tablespoon juice)
1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley
2 stalks fresh, green garlic or 2 cloves regular garlic plus 1 tablespoon chives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, about 1 1/2 pounds
Olive oil, optional
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Mix the goat cheese with the lemon zest, lemon juice, and parsley until well blended. Slice the garlic bulbs very thinly and chop about 1/3 of the green stalks. If using regular garlic and chives, mince finely. Mix the garlic into the goat cheese mixture. Season the mixture lightly with a pinch of salt and fresh black pepper.
Loosen the skin on the chicken breasts by running your fingers underneath it, leaving it attached at the edges. Cut a deep slit — about 3 inches long and and inch and a half deep — into the breast.
Divide the goat cheese mixture into fourths. Stuff a fourth of the goat cheese mixture into the slit in one of the chicken breast, pushing it as deep as possible into the slit. Use a toothpick or two to hold the slit closed if necessary. Stuff another fourth of the goat cheese mixture under the skin of the chicken breast; slide your finger across the top of the skin to spread the cheese into an even layer. Repeat with stuffing the other chicken breast.
Drizzle both breasts with olive oil, if desired, and season liberally with salt and pepper. Place in a baking dish or on a lined baking sheet. Cook for about 30 minutes, or until the skin is brown and crisp and an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breast reads 165°F.
Serve immediate with a green salad or vegetables.
Recipe originally published May 2008.
(Image credits: Faith Durand)