Saturday, 16 November 2013

Crusted Broccoli Pesto Stuffed Chicken with Mushroom Sauce

This meal was intended for last night, but hubby called just before finishing work and suggested fish and chips on the beach - it was such a gorgeous night! Fish and chips (as in the kind from the fish and chip shop) are such a rare occurrence for us, but we have no issue with having the odd indulgence. The most important part of any way you choose to eat is that you still live your life and allow the occasion take precedence over the eating once in a while! In saying that, we do order from our great local fish and chip shop where we order fresh fish (they sell fresh fish so have lots of yummy varieties available) and get it plain grilled with no flour or anything else added. I packed a large salad to go with the meal, and then we had a few hot chips.

There will be people out there who disagree with this attitude, and there will be others out there that feel that taking a salad to a fish and chip night is defeating the purpose of the indulgence. Everyone is different! And that is what makes life interesting. Our thoughts on clean eating are that we strive to eat a whole food, real food diet eliminating gluten, dairy, most grains and processed food. However, we are still normal people who live in the real world, and we are still a family with young children who want them to experience all of the fantastic memorable moments that we all enjoyed as children. I think we can all relate to the joys of family fish and chip night, and thankfully by living in a warm climate near a beautiful beach we are able to take it one step further and enjoy that feeling of the sand in our feet, the fun style of eating, feeding chips to the seagulls, and then running around on the beach after the meal. Such a great memory!

Anyway, due to the impromptu fish and chip night, I had the chicken that was planned for last night half ready in the fridge so tonights dinner was pretty simple to put together which worked out well after a hectic day. Dinner consisted of a chicken breast, stuffed with broccoli pesto then crusted with a coconut flour crust, pan fried then oven baked. The chicken was served with mushroom sauce, fresh asparagus and a garden salad. Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free and sugar-free, this meal is a delicious summer meal, and makes a great addition to the repertoire for 'special occasion' dinners too! It is also a good option for a BBQ and the chicken can easily be made ahead of time.

For the kids, I simply left the mushroom sauce off (they're not big mushroom fans) and served them the rest of the meal - they loved it!

Crusted Broccoli Pesto Stuffed Chicken with Mushroom Sauce
(Gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, sugar-free)


4 medium chicken breasts
1/2 a red capsicum, finely sliced
2 tbsp coconut oil

Broccoli Pesto:
1 cup broccoli, cut into small florets
1 cup spinach, roughly chopped
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup pine nuts, raw or toasted
1/2 cup fresh basil
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt

Coconut Crust:
1/2 cup coconut flour (you can use almond flour if you prefer)
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic salt (look for a natural brand with no additives)
a grind of black pepper

Mushroom Sauce:
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp fresh thyme (or dried works too)
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp coconut oil

1. Start by making your pesto. In a small blender or food processor combine all ingredients. Blend until well combined and with a fine texture. Set aside.
2. Next, prep your chicken. Trim the breasts, then using a sharp knife, make a hole in the fat end of the chicken breast by inserting a sharp thin knife into the chicken and carefully cutting into the middle of the breast. You are aiming to create a pocket, so make sure the knife doesn't poke through the skin as you are creating the pocket. It will need to be as long as you can make it, but the thin end of the chicken can get a bit too thin so only go as far as you can easily make the pocket. Repeat with each chicken breast.
3. In the pocket, insert 1/4 of the capsicum. Once the capsicum is in, put 1/4 of the pesto into the hole. This is where things get a little messy as you will need to push the pesto into the pocket.
4. Once the chicken is stuffed, you can use a toothpick to close the end up.
5. Preheat your oven to 200C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
6. On a plate, place all of the crust ingredients and mix to combine. In a large frying pan, heat the coconut oil over a medium heat. Take each of the stuffed chicken breasts, roll them in the crust mixture then place in the hot oil. Cook on one side until golden brown, then turn and brown the other side (this will take about 2 minutes each side). Once cooked, place the breasts on the baking tray. Place in the preheated oven a bake for about 20 minutes or until cooked through (no longer pink on the inside and juices run clear).
7. While the chicken is cooking, you can make the mushroom sauce and prepare the vegetables. In a small saucepan heat the coconut oil over a medium heat. Add the onions, and gently sauté until softened. Add the mushrooms and cook for a couple of minutes until starting to soften. Add the coconut milk, thyme, mustard, water and seasoning. Cook until the mushrooms and onions are well cooked and the sauce has thickened. Remove from heat and set aside until chicken is ready to serve.

Serve the chicken with a green salad filled with any fresh vegetables of your choice. I also served the meal with little steamed asparagus, but you can choose any green vegetables as a side. Take each chicken breast and slice into thick slices. You can serve whole, but by slicing it you show of the gorgeous colour of the broccoli and capsicum in the middle.