Pecan crusted chicken breast stuffed with roasted butternut squash and goats cheese served with a white wine and pancetta cream sauce
This is a great recipe for autumn and winter, I love the combination of butternut squash, pecans and creamy goats cheese, the rich creamy sauce is perfect for warming up a cold night. The recipe uses chopped pecans rather than breadcrumbs for the coating which creates a great flavor while also dramatically reducing the amount carbohydrates in the recipe.
Yield (serves): 4
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
For the stuffed chicken
4 chicken breasts (preferably free range)
6 oz (170 g) butternut squash (peeled and diced)
1 tablespoon freshly chopped thyme
4 oz soft goats cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ cups (250 g) toasted pecans (finely chopped)
3 free range eggs (beaten)
¼ cup (60 ml) light olive oil
For the sauce
¼ white onion (finely diced)
4 slices of pancetta or smoked bacon (chopped)
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme
1 clove garlic (minced)
¾ cup (180 ml) heavy cream (double cream)
½ cup (120 ml) dry white wine
4 tablespoon Parmesan cheese (shredded)
1. Pre heat the oven to 380F/180c
2. Place the butternut squash onto a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, place into the oven to bake until cooked through and starting to turn golden brown; this should take approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Using a small knife make an incision into the side of each chicken breast, move the knife around horizontally inside the breast to create a pocket for the filling, try to keep the incision no wider than an inch in length to keep the filling from spilling out when cooking
4. Fill each breast with equal amounts of goats cheese and butternut squash by pushing them through the incision; close the incision with a cocktail skewer. Save some roasted butternut squash to garnish the tops of the chicken breasts when they are cooked
5. Sprinkle each filled breast with the chopped thyme and season generously with sea salt and black pepper
6. To prepare the pecans take whole pecans and pulse in a food processor until they resemble course breadcrumbs.
7. Beat the eggs with ¼ tsp of salt (which helps to break down the egg making it easier to dip the chicken in) and place the chopped pecans into a bowl, then dip each cutlet into the egg mixture and then the pecans and make sure they are well coated,
7. Place the chicken breasts onto a tray drizzled with olive oil and then drizzle each breast generously with more olive oil and season once more. Place into the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown
8. Garnish the escallops with the remaining caramelized onions and freshly chopped parsley, don’t forget to remove the cocktail skewers before serving
9. To make the sauce start by sautéing the pancetta or bacon until crispy and then add the onions and cook through until softened. At this point add the garlic and thyme and continue to cook for another minute to release the flavors.
10. add the white wine and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until almost all of the wine has evaporated then add the cream, Parmesan and seasoning, continue to simmer gently for 5 to 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened
11. to serve place each chicken breast onto a serving plate (don’t forget to remove the cocktail skewer) and spoon over the sauce, top with some of the remaining butternut squash and some roughly chopped pecans and a sprinkle of parsley.
Try using different types of cheese for the stuffing, blue cheese works well as does a low moisture mozzarella cheese.
Try using different types of nuts for the crust, almonds and hazelnuts work really well!