This recipe is the perfect example of what happens when you don’t have a plan. The boneless chicken breasts were defrosted, the kids were starving and I was bored with the same ol’ same ol’. So I hit the fridge hoping to get the creative juices flowing and dinner on the table in less than an hour. What I found, thanks in great part to my kids’ lunch habits, was deli ham, salami and string cheese. Stuffing immediately came to mind. I continued to root around the refrigerator shelves for one more ingredient. Something that could perhaps shape a sauce. And there it was! One of my favorite flavor enhancers–Sun Dried Tomato Pesto. I also grabbed some leftover chicken broth and a carton of half-n-half. When I shut the door behind me, I had a renewed sense of self (truthfully–it doesn’t take much). Within five minutes, I had thinned out and seasoned the chicken breasts, stacked them with my fridge finds and rolled them up tightly around the filling (They don’t have to be picture perfect!). I then secured each breast with string (toothpicks would have been faster) and browned them. I tucked the whole pan in the oven to allow the chicken to finish cooking. While the roulades were baking, I prepared some angel hair pasta (which I tossed with the extra sauce) and opened a can of Le Sueur green peas. In less than 60 minutes, I had a delicious meal on the table that my kids raved about. They were also tickled to find their favorite string cheese hidden inside the chicken! Chicken Roulades with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Sauce has been a dinner favorite ever since.About the recipe …. I use either the Sargento or the Frigo light string cheese–the mozzarella ones. I’ve never tried the mozzarella/cheddar twists or the straight cheddar, but it’s worth trying if that’s all you have on hand. On the Sun Dried Tomato Pesto front, I’ve come across two brands: Classico and Delallo. I prefer the Classico leaps and bounds over the other. It’s creamier and more flavorful.
Chicken Roulades with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Sauce Recipe
4 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 slices deli ham
4 slices hard salami
4 pieces string cheese (light mozzarella)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chicken broth, divided
2 tablespoons Sun Dried Tomato Pesto*
1/4 cup half-n-half
Salt and pepper to taste
FOR CHICKEN: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice each breast in half horizontally (like slicing a sandwich roll into two pieces). Place breasts between two sheets of waxed paper. With the flat side of a meat mallet, pound each breast as thin as you can without tearing it. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Place one slice of ham on each breast. Top with a slice of salami and one string cheese. Wrap each breast tightly around the filling; secure ends and seam with toothpicks or kitchen twine. Place oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add roulades to skillet; brown on all sides. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth to pan; transfer to oven. Bake, uncovered, until chicken is cooked through, 20-25 minutes. Remove skillet from oven; flag with pot holders (so you don’t forgetfully grab it and burn your hands). Transfer roulades to a serving platter; tent with aluminum foil to keep warm.
FOR SAUCE: Return skillet to stove top; place over medium-high heat. Add reserved 1/2 chicken broth; deglaze pan by scraping the brown bits off the bottom. Add Sun Dried Tomato Pesto; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium. Add half-n-half; continue cooking, stirring frequently, until sauce has thickened and coats the back of a spoon, 3-5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
ASSEMBLY: Transfer roulades to a work surface; remove toothpicks or twine. Cut into slices; top with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Sauce. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
*Classico is my favorite brand of Sun Dried Tomato Pesto. It comes in a 6.5-ounce jar and can be found in most grocery stores in either the international food section or by the tomato sauces.