You'll love this spinach and artichoke-stuffed chicken breast served in a delicious creamy lemon sauce for many reasons, but perhaps most of all because a half hour is all you need to cook it.
The chicken also makes a super leftover dish, sliced and served with a salad for lunch the next day.
If you don't like artichokes, simply replace with another cup of spinach.
- For the Chicken:
- 1 cup baby spinach leaves (washed)
- 4 free-range chicken breasts (skinless)
- 4 ounces artichoke hearts (canned, drained)
- 4 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- For the Sauce:
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 4 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
- ½ cup heavy cream
Gather your ingredients. Place the spinach in a large pan, add 4 tablespoons cold water. Cover with a lid and place on medium heat for 5 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time. You only want the spinach to wilt in the pan, not steam or cook down totally. Once wilted, remove the lid, transfer the spinach to a sieve over a bowl and leave to drain and cool.
Dry the chicken breasts with paper towels. Place them on a clean cutting board, lay a piece of plastic wrap over them, and flatten slightly with a rolling pin to create an even thickness across the breast. Carefully, with a sharp knife, cut a pocket into the side of each chicken breast about ¾ of the way in and across, taking care not to cut right through. Place the chicken breasts on a plate and chill in the fridge while you make the filling.
Press the spinach in the sieve with the back of a spoon to squeeze away as much water as possible. Place the spinach, artichoke hearts, and mascarpone into a food processor and blitz for a few seconds to create a thick, creamy, green sauce. Add the lemon zest, juice and a tiny pinch of salt and pepper and stir through.
Take the chicken breasts from the fridge. Sprinkle a clean cutting board with one tablespoon of salt and one of pepper. Place the chicken breasts on the seasoning and press lightly, turn the breasts over and press again. Then, holding the breast open with one hand, carefully tuck one tablespoon of the filling deep into the pocket. Take care to not to get filling on the outside of the breast — if you do, wipe away with a paper towel. Secure the opening with a couple of toothpicks to hold in the filling.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan over high heat, and place the breasts in the pan. Lower the heat to medium — you do not want to cook the outside of the chicken too quickly, or it will burn before the center cooks. Cook for 6 minutes, turn the breasts over and cook for another 6 minutes. Remove chicken from the pan, lay on a warmed serving plate and cover to keep warm.
Make the Sauce: To deglaze the pan for the sauce, put the pan with the juices from the chicken back on the stove top and heat until bubbling. Add the lemon juice and the mascarpone, and stir well, scraping up any bits of sauce and chicken. Lower the heat, add the cream, mix thoroughly and let the sauce simmer for a few minutes. Strain into a warm jug.
To serve, first, remove the toothpicks from the chicken, cut each breast in two and serve on warm plates with the sauce on the side and a green vegetable.
Keep the chicken clean
- It is important to not get the filling all over the chicken while preparing as this will burn and spoil the dish. To make the stuffing easier and cleaner, use a spoon and hold the breast open with one hand, then place the spoon inside the pocket, and wipe the filling from the spoon using the chicken breast like a wipe.