Decompressing in Manhattan: Part 2

17 Aug

And now for the delicious continuation of my quick trip to New York.

First I want to back up a little bit – I think I said last time that we played Frisbee in Central Park during the day, but really we threw an Aerobie around. If you’ve never played with one of these things, you totally should. I had one when I was a kid and it got stuck on the neighbors’ roof and I vividly remember being devastated. It’s like a hybrid Frisbee/boomerang, and if the wind catches it right it can sail forever. I noticed a lot of people wanted to get into our Aerobie toss – and then I noticed they were all dudes. And then I realized that if you’re single, tossing a Frisbee/Aerobie/football on the grass in Central Park is like going to a bar, only you get to run around more and you don’t have to spend as much on drinks. Even with Patrick around, Becca and I must have been “accidentally” thrown at least five Frisbees/footballs that didn’t belong to us.

Anyway, I digress. With all that Aeorbie throwing and chasing, we were hungry for dinner (and of course more sangria). The the sangria prepared, Becca got started on dinner, and she cooked some of the best chicken I’ve had in a really long time – cutlets stuffed with fontina cheese and arugula with some panko bread crumbs on top. A-mazing.

Pre-oven cutlets with lots of garlic and a little bit of salt and pepper.

Even before tasting it, I decided that I was going to have to make this chicken myself at one point or another, so I asked Becca for the recipe. Turns out it’s from Williams-Sonoma – those people are the absolute best at being delicious. Here’s the recipe, straight from the W-S crew:

Baked Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Arugula and Fontina

Ingredients:

2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
5 oz. fontina cheese, preferably fontina Val d’Aosta
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, each about 7 oz.
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 large garlic clove, minced
16 arugula leaves, tough stems removed
2 eggs
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled
1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges

Directions:

Position a rack in the upper third of an oven and preheat to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Trim off and discard the rind from the cheese. Cut the cheese into four 2-by-1 1/2-inch rectangles about 1/8 inch thick.

Using a flat meat pounder, pound each chicken breast half until flattened to an even thickness of about 1/4 inch. Season the chicken breasts with the salt and pepper.

Place 1 chicken breast, with the long side facing you, on the work surface. Top with one-fourth of the garlic and 4 arugula leaves, torn as needed to fit the breast half, leaving a 1-inch border uncovered on all sides. Top with a piece of cheese. Starting at a short end, roll up the breast, tucking in the arugula as needed; set seam side down. Repeat with the remaining chicken, garlic, arugula and cheese.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. In a shallow dish, stir together the bread crumbs, oregano and rosemary. One at a time, coat a rolled chicken breast with the egg mixture and then roll in the bread crumbs, coating evenly. Place the breaded breasts, seam side down, on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Place the oiled baking dish in the oven and heat until very hot, about 3 minutes. Carefully arrange the breaded breasts, seam side down, in the hot dish. Drizzle evenly with the remaining 1 Tbs. oil. Bake until the bread crumbs are golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of a stuffed breast registers 170°F, 25 to 35 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a carving board. Cut each stuffed breast crosswise into slices about 1/2 inch thick and transfer to warmed individual plates. Serve immediately, and pass the lemon wedges at the table. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Chicken, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2008).

Becca served her version with asparagus and when everything came out of the oven I almost ate it all right off the baking dishes.

Baked Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Arugula and Fontina + asparagus

Patrick suggested that we eat at the table, rather than standing around the kitchen island, so I poured myself another glass of sangria, loaded up my plate and promptly began stuffing my face. Not only did we eat every piece of chicken and every piece of asparagus, Becca and a meticulously ate all the extra melted pieces of cheese and stray panko crumbs that were left in the baking dish. Ballin.

Ready to rock with sangria in the background.

With bellies full and showers taken, we were ready to get really crazy – it was time for Catch Phrase, one of my all time favorite games. Patrick and Becca’s friend Chelsea joined us and things got a little competitive. And also increasingly difficult as the sangria ran out and the beers were cracked open. I think we played best two out of three and I think Patrick and I lost to Becca and Chelsea … I think.

Patrick admiring Becca's Catch Phrase skills.

After that we headed to a local bar with Patrick’s awesome sister Jen where we set a high score in Nudie Photo Hunt. The last stop of the evening was the Galaxy Diner for mozzarella sticks and chicken fingers, because, you know, I really hadn’t eaten enough that day.

All in all, it was the perfect weekend trip. I’m unimaginably lucky to have such great friends and additionally lucky that they love to eat just as much as I do.

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