As I watch The Next Food Network Star from my couch at home, I’m pretty jealous of Bob, Bobby and Susie—the lucky ones who actually get to taste the food. Well, maybe not so lucky during the very first challenge when, despite the high caliber of talent this season, several of the chicken-and-potato dishes were undercooked. I certainly wasn’t envious of all that raw chicken.
But let’s focus on the good stuff—every week, we’re cooking and blogging the winning Star recipes. Aria’s chicken breast stuffed with a date-walnut-grape mixture wasn’t raw at all—in fact, Bobby pronounced it moist and well-seasoned, and all of the judges seemed to enjoy digging in.
The premiere had not one but three winning dishes, and two of them belonged to Aria. I decided to try out her chicken—I’m always looking for new ways to jazz up a chicken breast. Hers sounded interesting and not super-complicated, perfect for a weeknight dinner.
First step was the side dish of roasted potatoes and cauliflower. I did some quick chopping and tossed the veggies on a sheet pan with a big handful of raisins, olive oil, salt and pepper. My grocery store didn't have any chervil, but I wanted a little green mixed in, so I sliced some scallions and added those.
That went into the oven for 25 minutes, per Aria’s instructions. Meanwhile...
... I blitzed the walnuts, dates and grapes in my mini (apartment-size) food processor. Then I pounded the chicken breasts with a meat mallet and rolled them up around two tablespoons of the filling.
Sidenote: This filling was pretty delicious on its own—I spooned a taste out of the food processor before stuffing the chicken breasts. It would be a tasty little spread to serve with cheese and crackers. So don’t throw away what’s leftover.
I worried that my beautiful chicken rolls might fall apart as I dipped them in flour, egg wash and then bread crumbs. The recipe doesn’t call for any use of string to tie them, as in a traditional roulade. But mine stayed perfectly intact without it, so I guess Aria knew what she was doing. I breaded the rolls in panko—I had it in the pantry and love the extra-crispiness it gives just about anything—and pan-fried them in a little oil before popping them in the oven for the prescribed 15 minutes.
Aria’s cook time was right on the money – after letting the chicken rest a few minutes, I sliced into a perfectly cooked dinner.
The curry sauce was a snap, and even my curry-averse dining companion kept dipping in for more. It balanced nicely with the chicken’s sweet filling and added some oomph to the plate.
Keep up the good stuff, Aria – I’d try another of your recipes any day.
Which Star dish were you inspired to make this week?