Bell Pepper Stuffed Chicken Rolls

Bell Pepper Stuffed Chicken Rolls Recipe

This is my second most favorite chicken recipe (after my poulet rôti, "roasted chicken"). The whole idea is to use dark meat from the chicken thigh, stuff it, pan-sear the meat and finish cooking in the oven. It's as simple as that. First, I used boneless chicken (de-boning the thigh and using the bones for excellent chicken broth) and made sure the skin was still on. Then I proceeded with the tender meat. I used a preserved lemon marinade and let it rest overnight. For the filling, I combined roasted red bell peppers, Manzanilla olives, shallots and cornichons (French gherkins). 

To me, cooking is an expression of love. The dish doesn't have to be complicated. Learn your basics and you'll be able to dazzle your friends and family with creative, over-the-top dishes by making a few variants of your favorite recipes. 

Ingredients

Yields: 6 servings

2 cups heavy whipping cream
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 homemade preserved lemons (or store-bought), drained
1½ teaspoons black pepper
6 tablespoons olive oil
6 to 8 chicken thighs (about 1½ to 2½ pounds), with skin on
1 tablespoon Kosher salt (or regular salt)
1 teaspoon cayenne powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 shallots, thinly sliced and freshly fried
2 teaspoons papaya paste (see tips)
juice of 1 lemon , freshly squeezed
½ cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
2 roasted red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped
2 anchovy filets (optional)
¼ cup Manzanilla olives, pitted and chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 tablespoons Italian parsley leaves, finely chopped
8 cornichons (pickles), chopped


Directions

The day before...

Marinating the chicken:

Remove the fat around the bottom of the thigh if there is any. De-bone each piece. Wash the chicken thighs and pat them dry using paper towels.

In a blender, combine the whipping cream, papaya paste, baking powder, 1 clove garlic, preserved lemons, cayenne pepper and 1 teaspoon salt.

Place the chicken in a large bowl or a sealable zip-top bag. Coat the chicken in the cream mixture. Drizzle with about 1 tablespoon olive oil. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Making tapenade filling: In a mini-food processor (or blender), combine the chopped olives, anchovies (if used), 2 cornichons, shallots, garlic and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Pulse until smooth. Drizzle with 2 tablespoon olive oil. Pulse until the oil is well incorporated. Transfer to a bowl. Add the chopped bell pepper and 1 tablespoon parsley. Season with black pepper. Stir well using a spatula. Check seasoning; depending on the saltiness of the anchovies, add more salt if necessary (I made 2 batches so there would be a vegetarian version).

Prepping the filling and making the stuffed chicken rolls:

The next day, pat the meat dry one more time using paper towels, removing and discarding as much cream as possible.

Transfer one chicken thigh at a time, skin side down,  onto a cutting board lined with a piece of plastic wrap. Spoon 2-3 teaspoons bell pepper mixture evenly over the chicken. Carefully roll up the chicken thigh tightly. Tie the meat with twine (there are plenty of very informative Youtube videos on this subject) and secure the chicken roll tightly with a knot. Repeat with the remaining chicken thighs. Season the outer surface of each roll with more salt and pepper.

Cooking the chicken roulades:

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a large, heat-proof, non-stick pan, add 1 tablespoon oil. Once the oil is hot, pan-sear each side of the rolls for about 1½ minutes (a total of about 9 minutes) until golden. Quickly transfer the chicken rolls to a platter. At this point the chicken isn't cooked completely; it will finish cooking in the sauce.

Making the sauce:

Add the rest of the olive oil, Add the flour. Mix and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add white wine and chicken broth to the hot pan, bring to a boil and scrape the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon (called deglazing). Reduce (uncovered) the liquid to about 3-4 tablespoons. Bring to a boil again and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste. Lower the heat to low. Adjust seasoning of the sauce with salt and pepper. Return the chicken rolls to the pan.

Place in the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Allow the chicken to rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Assembly:

Transfer the chicken rolls to a cutting board. Snip and discard the twine. Slice in half on the bias.

Bring the sauce back to a boil on the stove. Finish with lemon juice. Cover the slices of chicken rolls with sauce (I added sautéed sliced mushroooms to the sauce).  Garnish with cornichons. Serve warm. 

Bon appétit!


Tips

You could use other chicken parts but the thighs have small bones, plenty of dark meat and the skin doesn't tear so easily.

Papaya and baking powder are both great meat tenderizers. This was Baji, Lulu's late grandma's, secret for tender and moist meat. Peel a green papaya. Grind the cubed papaya with seeds in a mini food processor, place about 2 teaspoons of papaya paste per slot in an ice-cube tray and freeze them. Transfer the ice-cubes 3 by 3 into sealable plastic bags and place back in the freezer. I think it's the best way to keep the same flavor without getting freezer burn. I store them exactly the same as I would extra pesto.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on February 26, 2014.


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