It’s safe to say that 2018 has certainly started off a bit rocky. The last three weeks have been filled with more time in my personal hideaway than even a homebody like myself is a fan of. Not to mention, I think the majority of people would agree that January felt as though it was 72 days long. With that said, getting a jumpstart on any resolutions that may have been in works sort of got pushed to the next month….this month. And that brings us to here and now, the 4th day of February.
I have to be honest, I’m a bit biased when it comes to February. It’s one of my favorite months because it’s the last truly cold month, with snow flurries, and hot cocoa, knit blankets piled on the couch. The last real month when I can layer every sweater and scarf I own, plus it allows for me hole up in my apartment on Saturdays and Sundays cooking, cooking, cooking. What’s better than that?
February also holds a week of special birthdays, with my mom and my best friend on the planet celebrating revolutions around the sun with three days of one another. This year in particular, has a slew of exciting events, the most anticipatory of which is said best friend coming to spend almost an entire week in snowy Colorado. I am a lucky, lucky girl.
This morning there are sparse snowflakes dancing down to the sidewalks in syncopated rhythms and I’m sitting on the living room rug, finishing the last of my coffee. I’m hopeful for February, which means I’m cooking again.
I like this recipe because it includes a ton of beautiful ingredients but it takes very little time and effort. The best recipes always do, right? I wanted to make something hardy but also not incredibly unhealthy. My first-choice meal is always some sort of pasta. Seriously, I would eat pasta for every single meal if my metabolism would allow for it. But alas, life isn’t so kind and therefore, I’m always looking for ways to introduce Italian flavors into non-pasta dishes. This chicken turned out to be one of the best ones I’ve thrown together in a long time.
The first step was to saute the spinach. While you can absolutely choose to use to use frozen spinach, I prefer fresh always. I had to add more to the pan about three different times to have the amount of spinach I wanted for the ricotta and pine nut mix.
The next step was to prep the chicken and the potatoes. The chicken was fairly easy. I washed the chicken breasts, patted them dry, and butterflied them. Butterflying the chicken is a lot easier than you would think. I always take my non-knife-holding hand and press down on the chicken breast and then slowly glide the knife through the center of the breast, cutting it horizontally, creating somewhat of a book. I sprinkled the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides and treated the “outside covers” of the book with a light dusting of Italian seasoning.
If you don’t have any Italian seasoning you can make your own by combining as many of the following ingredients as you have in your cupboard: black pepper, dried basil, garlic powder, dried marjoram, onion powder, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, dried rosemary, and dried thyme.
The next step was to slice the potatoes. I took two skewers and placed one of each side of the potato. Carefully I cut the potatoes into slices, with each slice being about 1/3rd inch thick, being sure to allow the skewers to stop the knife before it cut all the way through.
Now was the time to preheat the oven. I next mixed the filling by combining the already-cooked spinach, the ricotta, and the pine nuts in a bowl. Add the spinach in batches to ensure that you do not have too much or too little. I was trying for the most even consistency possible, so that there was what seemed to be an equal amount of spinach and ricotta, with the pine nuts there to provide an extra bit of color and eventually a pop of flavor.
Next, I began heating the same cast-iron skillet I used to cook the spinach. I took the ricotta mixture and began to fill the already-butterflied chicken with it, folding them and lining them up to be put in the pan as soon as it was at the right temperature.
I then placed the chicken breasts into the skillet and waited. After about four minutes, I flipped the chicken, placed the potatoes in the same pan (coating them in olive oil, salt, and pepper with a brush) and waited six more minutes. Finally, I popped the whole skillet into the already-preheated oven, and then it was time to wait.
When the chicken was done, I found the potatoes weren’t entirely cooked through so I had to remove the chicken, and continue cooking the sweet potatoes for an additional 20 minutes or so in order to give them their time. I have to be honest, potatoes often cause me grief in the kitchen. It’s times like these that I have to remind myself that I am no professional chef and that I am still learning. All in good time. Just like everything else.
Happy February, friends.
Spinach & Ricotta Stuffed Chicken Skillet
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Begin by sautéing the spinach in a large skillet with two cloves of minced garlic and a splash of cooking oil. If you are using fresh spinach, you are likely going to need 3-4 cups.
- Prepare chicken so that it can be stuffed. Do this by washing the chicken and patting it dry. Then proceed by butterflying the chicken with a large kitchen knife. You want to do this by cutting them almost entirely in half, making it into somewhat of a book. Cover the chicken in salt and pepper sparingly, and dust the outside of the “books” with Italian seasoning.
- Prepare the potatoes by placing two skewers on each side of the potato and cutting almost all the way through. Make each slice about 1/3rd of the inch thick.
- In a bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, spinach, and pine nuts. Begin heating the pan you are going to place the chicken in on the stovetop. Use medium-high heat.
- Distribute spinach and ricotta mixture onto each chicken breast.
- Wrap chicken around mixture (close the book).
- Place the chicken in the pan, cooking on one side for 4 minutes, then flipping.
- Place the potatoes in the pan, brushing a mixture of olive oil, salt and pepper on them as they begin to cook. Let cook with the chicken for approximately 6 minutes.
- Place cast iron skillet into the oven.
- Cook for 30 minutes and serve.