Monday, March 1, 2010

Chicken and cheese stuffed jumbo shells

This is my chicken and cheese stuffed jumbo shell dish that I am putting together for a wedding that I am catering in the near future. In this dish the chicken is a boneless skinless chicken breast that I cut into a medium dice (which means its cut into little 1/4 inch cubes approx) and then sauteed in olive oil with my chefs seasoning, that I made sure to go a bit heavy on the garlic on, until it was cooked through. I then removed that from the heat and let sit in the pan cooling while I mixed together the cheese's. The cheeses for this dish consist of shredded Parmesan, shredded provolone, shredded mozzarella, asiago and ricotta cheeses (1 part ricotta, 1 part mozz, 1/4 part provolone, 1/4 part parm, 1/8 asiago) with some salt, pepper and dried parsley flakes mixed in with them. Also while the chicken is cooling you set to boil some salted water for the shells. You boil the shells to an "Al Dente" state (which means almost done), so for about 9 min. Now that the chicken is cooled down enough to not melt the cheese before you want it to, mix the chicken in with the cheeses and start to stuff the shells with the mixture (about 2 tbsp per shell) you want the shells to be just full to the brim, I recommend not over stuffing these shells as that just leads to a big, sticky, gooey Delicious mess later! Place these prepared shells in a medium shallow pan, ass about 2 tbsp of water to the pan and then cover with foil. Place in oven preheated to 350 degrees and cook for approx. 15-20 min. Check for cheese starting to bubble under the foil. At that point remove foil for an additional 5 min in the oven. While the shells are in the oven begin making the sauce for the dish. Start by adding garlic and shallots to the pan that you sauteed the chicken in until it begins to brown. At the point where it begins to brown add about 1 1/2 cups white wine of choice to the pan and let reduce to au sec (the point where it has cooked down to almost a gel). At this point add one can chicken broth to the pan and let that reduce by half. Finally add approx 8 ounces cream to pan and heat until it begins to simmer. Taste adding salt and pepper to taste. Thicken to desired consistency with a corn starch slurry (corn starch and water dissolved together, enough cornstarch and water to make a milky consistency). At this point remove the shells from the oven and begin plating with your desired side dishes.

In this dish I chose a green bean, mushroom and tomato toss to accompany the shells. But this goes well with a wide variety of vegetables, try your own ideas with this to make it your own!

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