I love Strawberry Season. Whilst the berries we have growing in our garden are not quite ripe yet, fresh English berries are showing up in all of the shops at the moment and we are enjoying them any way that we can.
I try to only eat fruit when it is in season and from the UK, unless it's something tropical like bananas, pineapple and mangoes. I refuse to pay a fortune for berries in the winter when they are sub standard and lacking in flavour. I don't want to eat berries that have taken weeks to get to my table.
During berry season though, I try to eat my fill of them and use them in whatever way that I can. This recipe here today has to be one of my more unusual ways of using them. Mild flavoured chicken breasts serve as the perfect canvas for some beautiful flavour combinations.
Chicken breasts are stuffed with salty Parmesan cheese, which has been wrapped in peppery basil leaves. Then they are sauteed lightly until golden brown in some garlic oil and then finished off in the oven until they are cooked perfectly through, but still moist.
Sweet berries are baked in a dish along side of them . . . their sweetness balanced by some strawberry preserves and rich balsamic vinegar . . .
The end result is deliciously moist chicken filled with melted parmesan and peppery basil, with a sauce of sweet/tart melted berries and a garnish of more peppery basil.
Unusual yes . . . but it all works together perfectly and deliciously. I do hope you will give them a try. I think you just may be surprised and fall in love too!
*Chicken with Parmesan, Basil and Melting Berries*
freshly ground black pepper
For the chicken:
Place the halved berries into a large shallow glass casserole dish. Whisk the preserves and vinegar together. Pour over the berries. Season to taste with some salt and pepper.Take your chicken breasts and using a sharp knife, cut a pocket into the thickest part. Cut the Parmesan cheese into six equal sized sticks, each about 3 inches in length and 1/2 inch thick. Wrap the sticks in two basil leaves and insert one wrapped piece into each pocket of the chicken breasts. Secure shut with wooden picks.
Heat the oil in a skillet with an oven proof handle which is large enough to hold all six breasts, over medium heat. Cook the garlic paste in the pan for a few seconds until fragrant. Season the breasts with salt and pepper and place them presentation side down in to the hot pan. Saute until they are golden brown on both sides, turning once and cooking them for about 5 minutes. Pop them into the oven and cook for five minutes. Put the dish with the berries into the oven and cook both the berries and the chicken for a further 12 to 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the berries have softened nicely. Remove from the oven. Remove and discard the wooden picks. Place the breasts onto a large serving platter. Spoon the melting berries over top and scatter with the chiffonade basil leaves. Serve immediately.