Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Sausage & Lemon Zest
This is a tasty and versatile dish. It is good for buffets, seated dinners, or family meals.
If you don't want to use fresh breadcrumbs, the packaged bread crumbs available at grocery stores can be substituted, but be sure to use the coarse crumbs that are usually used in stuffing.
The recipe calls for boneless whole chicken breasts with the skin on, and the flavor and moistness of the chicken are better for it, but unless you are willing to debone your own chicken breasts, skinless breasts will work just fine. It is really worth it to use clarified butter (especially if you use chicken with skin) when you saute the chicken, but it is not absolutely necessary.
Central Market makes a wonderful variety of sausages, and I have experimented with quite a few substitutions with great results.
Pound the chicken breasts with meat hammer to lightly flatten.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Add the onion and garlic; reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the onion is very soft but not brown, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the sausages in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover.
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to moderate and simmer until the sausages are
cooked through, about 15 minutes. Drain well and coarsely chop.
Add the sausages, tarragon, tomato paste and brandy to the skillet with the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the brandy has evaporated, about 5 minutes.
Scrape the sausage mixture into a large bowl and stir in the bread crumbs, 1 Tablespoon of the parsley, 2 teaspoons of the lemon zest and the salt.
Spoon 1/4 of the stuffing onto each chicken breast. Gather the sides around the stuffing to form a ball shape, and secure with wooden skewers (or use string).
In a large oven proof skillet, melt 2 Tablespoons of butter over high heat.
When the foam subsides, add the chicken breasts, rounded-side down and cook
until well browned, about 5 minutes. Turn the breasts over and put the skillet
in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes or until the chicken breasts are white throughout,
but still juicy.
Transfer the chicken breasts to a large platter and cover loosely with foil. Pour off the fat from the skillet and set the skillet over high heat.
Add the white wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Boil until reduced to 3 Tablespoons.
Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon parsley and 1 tablespoon lemon zest. Remove the skewers (or string) from the chicken and cut into slices about 3/8" thick. Pour any accumulated juices into the skillet and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Drizzle the sauce over the chicken and serve.