Goat Cheese and Cranberry Stuffed Chicken Breasts Wrapped in Sweet Potato Strings
Goat Cheese and Cranberry Stuffed Chicken Breasts Wrapped in Sweet Potato Strings… Whoa! How’s THAT for a mouthful?
Honestly, though, I didn’t know how else to call this latest creation of mine…
For this, is exactly what it is: juicy chicken breasts stuffed with a delicious, creamy concoction of zesty goat cheese, plump, tangy and sweet dried cranberries, crunchy walnuts and fragrant fresh herbs, all wrapped up in long, crispy strings of perfectly golden Japanese sweet potatoes.
From the looks of it, you’d think that this recipe was extremely complicated to make, but seriously, though, it’s not so bad. Granted, it’s not the kind of dish that you can whip up in under 10 minutes. Also too, it does require a few pieces of special equipment, namely a vegetable spiralizer and pastry bag. But by all means, don’t let that discourage you from wanting to put those puppies on the table.
Although initially, you may find that stuffing the chicken is a test to your patience, once you get the hang of it, it becomes as easy as making coffee (What? Sorry, I couldn’t think of a better example. You give me one, and I’ll make the change, how’s that?)
As for wrapping the chicken breasts with potato strings, it’s really super easy. You don’t have to be all that exact about it… Trust me and just read on, you’ll see!
Oh, and before we start, here’s a very simple trick that I like to share pretty much every time I cook chicken breasts: the trick to making them super moist and tasty is to lightly brine them before you use ’em. It requires VERY little effort on your part but is SO totally worth it, I’m sure that once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go without it.
All you need to do is plunge your chicken breasts in a solution made of 1 tablespoon of salt for 2 cups of water and leave your chicken in there for the night, or even longer, if you have to…
If you can’t do it, don’t sweat it. But if time permits, trust me… I swear you won’t regret it.
Alright, so now that your chicken has been brined (or not), it’s time to get started on the actual recipe.
Preheat your oven to 375°F and then add your soft goat cheese, dried cranberries, chopped walnuts, fresh herbs, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl and mix delicately with a spoon until well combined.
It’s imperative here that your cheese be soft and at room temperature. If it’s too cold and firm, you will never be able to pipe it into your chicken breasts later.
If you haven’t had time to let it come back to room temperature, you can soften it for just a few seconds in the microwave. Just make sure you don’t overdo it… you wouldn’t want to end up melting it!
Also, make sure that you chop your walnuts fine enough so they can pass through the hole of the piping tip you’ll be using (so don’t go using a teeny weeny one… 11/16″ and up is a good size!)
Check your cranberries, too. If they’re really big, you might want to chop them up a bit.
Alright, time to attack that chicken!
With a sharp boning knife, make an incision in each of the chicken breasts. Start at the larger, thicker end and slowly work your way to the “pointy” end, being careful not to let the blade go all the way through. You want to create a nice pocket for your cheese filling.
Then, insert a finger or two in that pocket to stretch it a little bit and make sure that the passage is unobstructed and goes all the way to the end.
Then, if you need to, pinch the openings between your fingers and give the breasts a gentle squeeze to evenly distribute the filling within the pocket.
Set aside for now.
Now we need to make us some sweet potato strings! For that, you’ll need a vegetable spiralizer.
To make the longest strings possible, make sure that you select sweet potatoes that are as evenly shaped as possible, with a nice, elongated, perfectly oval shape. I chose to use the Japanese variety, because I’m a fan of their red skin and creamy white flesh, but if you can’t get your hands on them, you could also use the more common orange variety.
Oh, and 3 potatoes might seem like a lot, but trust me, you’re not gonna get away with any less than that, because we’re only going to use the really long strands. The ones that are too short to go around the chicken breasts (and there will be A LOT) will be of no use for this recipe. You can hold on to them and save them for another dish, though.
Need a few suggestions? Try my this delicious Sweet Potato and Chicken Mash or this spectacular Smoked Salmon, Collards and Sweet Potato Breakfast Scramble. This last one, my daughter still asks for very regularly and keeps telling me that it’s one of her favorite dishes EVER! Just sayin’…
Alright, so like I was saying, use the longest strings and wrap them around the chicken breasts as best you can.
As you can see, this is not exact science and doesn’t need to be perfect. So long as the strings go around and over the chicken, it’s all good!
Brush the chicken breasts with the melted ghee…
…and then sprinkle them with the chopped thyme, salt and pepper.
Bake uncovered in a 375°F oven for 20 minutes, and then lower the oven temperature to 350°F. Tent your chicken loosely with aluminium foil and resume cooking for an additional 25 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.
If you feel the sweet potatoes could use a little more coloring after the chicken is done cooking, set the oven to broil for 2 to 3 minutes.
Garnish with a little bit of chopped fresh herbs, crumbled goat cheese, a few extra dried cranberries and chopped walnuts.
If you want my advice, I say these chicken breasts are so generously stuffed and garnished that they pretty much make for a complete meal by themselves. I suggest that you go very light with the sides: a handful of fresh greens, a few slices of crispy cucumbers and you’re pretty much good to go!
Let that chicken be the star of the show…
Chicken Breasts Wrapped in Sweet Potato Strings
- 4 large chicken breasts, about 225g | 8oz each
- 2 cups water
- 1 tbsp Himalayan salt
For the cheese filling
- The previous night, place your chicken breasts to brine in a solution made of 1 tablespoon of salt for 2 cups of water. While this step is not absolutely mandatory, it creates a much juicier and tastier chicken and requires very little effort on your part. Trust me, it's totally worth it.
- Preheat oven to 375°F
- In a bowl, add all the ingredients for the cheese filling and mix delicately with a spoon until well combined. Set aside.
- With a sharp boning knife, make an incision in each of the chicken breasts. Start at the larger, thicker end and slowly work your way to the pointy end, being careful not to let the blade go all the way through. You want to create a nice pocket for your cheese filling.
- Insert a finger or two in that pocket to stretch it a little bit and make sure that the passage is unobstructed and goes all the way to the end.
- With the help of a spiralizer, cut the sweet potatoes into long strings. Use the longest strings to wrap around the chicken breasts as best you can. Note that you will have to leave quite a few strands behind as they will not be long enough to wrap around the chicken; You can keep those smaller pieces for another use.*
- Bake uncovered in a 375°F oven for 20 minutes, and then lower the oven temperature to 350°F. Tent your chicken loosely with aluminium foil and resume cooking for an additional 25 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- If you feel the sweet potatoes could use a little more coloring after the chicken is done cooking, set the oven to broil for 2 to 3 minutes.