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Spinach-Stuffed Chicken Breast with Summer Vegetables and Red-Pepper Coulis

Spinach-Stuffed Chicken Breast with Summer Vegetables and Red-Pepper Coulis

YIELD: 4 servings

7 (6 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
9 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and white pepper, as needed
¼ tsp. nutmeg
2 oz. canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
½ cup small-dice red peppers
6 cups flat-leaf spinach, cleaned
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup water, cold
Shortening for frying, as needed
Red-Pepper Coulis:
¼ cup canola oil
2 large red peppers, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups vegetable stock
2 bay leaves tied in cheesecloth
2 Tbsps. salt
2 tsps. white pepper
Asparagus spears, trimmed, steamed to al dente, as needed
White corn kernels sauteed in canola oil and garlic, tossed with carrot brunoise, as needed
Shiitake mushrooms, julienned, sauteed with toasted fennel seed and salt, as needed

1. Trim away any fat and cartilage from 3 chicken breasts. Cut into large chunks and place in a food processor.

2. Puree the breasts, adding 3 eggs and enough heavy cream until the mixture is smooth and firm. Season with 3 tsps. salt, 1 tsp. pepper and the nutmeg. Reserve chilled.

3. In a saute pan, heat the canola oil and sauté the garlic and shallots for about 1 minute, until they are translucent but not browned. Add the peppers and cook 1 minute more.

4. Add the spinach and wilt in the oil, seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove the spinach mixture to a shallow pan and reserve in a cooler.

5. Once chilled, fold the spinach mixture into the chicken puree. Reserve chilled.

6. Butterfly the remaining chicken breasts and pound them flat with the smooth side of a meat mallet.

7. Distribute the spinach/chicken mixture among the 4 breasts and roll each breast around the mixture, closing the ends as well as possible. Place the breasts on a well-oiled sheet pan or wire rack and place in a freezer until they have firmed up, about 45 minutes.

8. Place the flour in a shallow pan and add 3 tsps. of salt. In a bowl, mix the remaining eggs with the cold water and whip smooth with a wire whisk. Place the whipped eggs in a separate shallow pan.

9. Preheat a deep fryer to 350°F, with the wire baskets set down in the shortening.

10. Dredge each frozen chicken breast in the flour, then coat in the egg mixture and drop immediately in the fryer, letting the breasts rest in the hot fat for a moment before gently shaking them free of the basket. Fry until the coating is golden brown, but the chicken is not cooked through. Remove the breasts to an oiled wire rack and place in a 325°F oven. Cook to an internal temperature of 165°F. Hold hot for service.

11. For red-pepper coulis: Heat the oil in a medium sauce pan. Saute the peppers, carrots, onion and garlic until they start to soften. Add enough stock to barely cover the vegetables. Add the bay leaves and bring to a simmer. Cook at a low simmer until all of the vegetables are very soft, then turn off the heat and remove the bay leaves. Use an immersion blender to purée the vegetables until smooth, seasoning with salt and pepper and adjusting the consistency with additional stock if needed. Hold hot for service.

12. Per order: Place asparagus spears in the center of the plate with the tips pointing away. Put a spoonful of the corn on 1 side and some of the mushrooms on the other. Lay down a bed of the coulis along the nearest edge of the plate.

13. Carefully trim the ends off each chicken breast and slice each breast into 3 even slices. Fan the slices from 1 breast over the sauce and serve immediately.

Recipe: Chef Bill Claypool, The Commons at Vanderbilt University, Nashville. Photo: Julie Crider, Vanderbilt University

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