Feta Stuffed Chicken with Apricot + Basil, Bulgur and Kale Salad
Why we love it:
- 2 cups Bulgur Wheat
- 2 cups Chicken Stock
- 1 teaspoon Unsalted Butter
- 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt (divided)
- 4 Apricotss (ripe)
- 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
- 1⁄4 cup Cider Vinegar
- 1⁄2 bunch Basil
- 11⁄4 pounds Chicken Breast (boneless, skinless) (ideally 1 per person, look for small pieces)
- 4 ounces Feta Cheese (the kind in a block, not crumbled)
- 1 bunch Lacinato Kale (large bunch), also called dino kale
- 1⁄2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (divided, use a high quality one here)
- 1 Lemon (zest and juice, divided)
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
Combine the bulgur, stock and ½ teaspoon of salt in a small pot with a fitted lid and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, stir it well and reduce to low. Cover. Steam/simmer for about 10-12 minutes.
3. APRICOTS + DRESSING
Slice the apricots in half and remove the pit. Typically apricot pits fall out relatively easily, but if needed use a paring knife to loosen and pry it out. Chop the apricots into a small dice and place in a medium sized bowl, ideally with a wide flat bottom.
In a small jar or bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the zest of the lemon, half of the lemon juice, mustard, and cider vinegar. Tear or slice about half of the basil leaves (about ¼ of a bunch) and add as well. Whisk or shake well. Add the olive oil (all but 1 teaspoon) and shake to combine.
Use a cocktail muddler (or a potato masher or a fork) to smash and juice the apricots until you have a chunky consistency with some juices. Add in about half of the dressing and stir to combine. Reserve dressing.
4. STUFF CHICKEN
Take a look at the chicken breasts and place them tender side up on a flat work surface. The tender side is the bottom, it may or may not have the actual tender attached, but either way it should be clear that it is the bottom by having a ridged appearance versus the very smooth rounded top.
In the side of the breast, evenly in the middle use a sharp and thin paring knife to make a little pocket. Start small, then work the knife in and slowly move it up and down to open the pocket most of the length of the chicken but without separating it into 2 pieces. Repeat on the other pieces.
Slice the feta into thin sticks and evenly stuff the pieces into the chicken breasts. Pat the pockets closed and season the chicken with 3/4 teaspoon of salt divided among the pieces.
Place the chicken into the apricot marinade.
Use a glass baking dish, 9x9 or 9x13, and transfer the chicken to the dish. Set the pieces in so they are again tender side up and scrap the marinade over the chicken.
Place in the bottom third of the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
While the chicken is baking, prep the kale. Trim off the bottom of the stems depending on how tender and fresh they look. Usually, you only have to trim about 1” off but if they are thicker than a pencil, you can trim up higher. Also, press a finger nail into the stem to see how soft or wood it is - the more tender the better. Another method is to take a bite and see how it tastes! Wash and dry the leaves. Stack them and roll them into a manageable bundle. Starting from the top, slice through the leaves into ⅓” thick strips. When you reach the point where the stems become thicker, make your slices thinner.
*if you don’t enjoy the kale stems, you can remove them before slicing. Consider saving them for stock or pickles (great in a bloody mary garnish!)*
6. CHICKEN FLIP
Once the chicken has been baking for 10 minutes, use a spatula to flip it over and top it again with any of the marinade and apricot pieces on the side of the pan. Return to the oven for 6-10 minutes longer depending on the thickness of your chicken.
7. FINISH SIDE DISHES
Check the bulgur, which is likely done by now, the liquid should be absorbed and the grains fluffier and tender. If there’s some liquid left, you can leave the lid off and turn the heat up a bit and it will simmer and evaporate. When its done, fluff with a fork. Add half of the lemon juice to it and stir to combine.
Place the kale in a large bowl once its chopped. Add 1 Tablespoon olive oil (use a high quality one here) and the remaining ¼ tsp of salt. Use your fingertips to massage the greens and you’ll see them turn from pale and fluffy to dark green and shiny, they’ll reduce dramatically in volume. Drizzle about ½ teaspoon of dressing over the greens.
*If you don’t like raw kale, you can saute the greens after cutting them. Use the oil and salt all the same and stir in a hot pan until they’re wilted.*
Add a scoop of bulgur to each plate and place the kale on the side. Since you bothered to stuff the chicken, its nice to slice it and fan the pieces out on each plate. Top generously with the rest of the freshly torn or sliced basil and garnish with any apricot pieces roasted in the pan.