August 20, 2010

Cajun Chicken Stuffed with Pepper Jack Cheese & Spinach


**NEW:  Check out my new twist to this dish:  Hasselback Chicken!  It's Cajun spiced and stuffed with pepper jack cheese & spinach.  It's just as delicious but easier to make and takes less time to cook!  Oh, and I'm pretty sure it will save plenty of trees because it eliminates the need for toothpicks altogether!  

Cheese was $1.50 a block at my local grocery store, so I took advantage of the sale and bought a few, one of which was pepper jack cheese.  My husband and I snacked on some of the pepper jack over the weekend and started chatting about the different dishes we could create with it and we came up with this.  It turned out fabulous!  The chicken is cooked to perfection and has a wonderful spicy kick from the Cajun seasoning and creamy pepper jack cheese filling.  I have made this for my family and company many times and it is always a hit.  

**If you have little ones eating this or your spice tolerance is fairly low, halve the Cajun seasoning and double the breadcrumbs.  Also, try substituting some of your favorite vegetables in place of the spinach.  Some of my favorites include broccoli (parboiled before stuffing in the chicken) and crunchy chopped celery.  



Ingredients:
Serves 4


Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes


  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded (you can use up to 6 oz)
  • 1 c frozen spinach, thawed and drained (you can also use fresh cooked spinach)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Cajun seasoning - click here for my homemade Cajun spice recipe
  • 1 tbsp breadcrumbs (I use Italian style)
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Lots of toothpicks 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Flatten the chicken to 1/4-inch thickness.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

In a medium bowl, combine the pepper jack cheese, spinach, salt and pepper.

Combine the Cajun seasoning and breadcrumbs together in a small bowl.

Spoon about 1/4 c of the spinach mixture onto each chicken breast. Roll each chicken breast tightly and fasten the seams with several toothpicks.  This part requires a tiny bit of skill and I typically use about 8 toothpicks in each roll to ensure none of the filling seeps out.  Be sure to count how many total toothpicks were used!

Brush each chicken breast with the olive oil.  Sprinkle the Cajun seasoning mixture evenly over all.  Make sure you get underneath, too.  Sprinkle any remaining spinach and cheese on top of chicken (optional).

Place the chicken seam-side up onto a tin foil-lined baking sheet (for easy cleanup).  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Remove the toothpicks before serving.  Count to make sure you have removed every last toothpick.  Serve whole or slice into medallions.

Enjoy!


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