This tender and juicy Spinach-Artichoke Stuffed Chicken is a feast packed with flavor. Pair it with some lightly seasoned mashed potatoes to balance things out!
I don’t know whether I should find it funny or ironic that some people seem to assume I can’t cook just because I opt to bake a lot. In reality, I actually quite enjoy cooking. It’s just that in our house, I have a mom who’s a great cook, and one of my brothers recently discovered the joys of cooking as well (and he’s pretty good for an inexperienced noob). There’s enough cooking going around, and so being in charge of dessert just always felt like the natural role for me. Add to that, I’m so picky with recipes and so short on time I can only ever do one or two recipes on a Sunday. And so I go and bake instead. Quite a lot, I admit.
Interestingly enough, the constant asking of whether I can/like to cook has made me realize how much I actually do, in fact, enjoy it. As much as I love the magic of creating things from mere flour, eggs, and butter, I don’t enjoy eating desserts half as much as I enjoy eating actual meals. And really there’s something about whipping up dishes yourself that seems to make them more enjoyable. You appreciate it beyond the flavors because you also think about the effort that went into it.
That said, you’d think I’d have more non-dessert recipes featured up here!
As I write this, I’m starting to feel like I’m making too many excuses for myself. I should just cook more if I really want to cook more right? Why make it a competition between cooking and baking when I can do both on this blog? I need to seriously put in more effort to balance things out now, because it’s not enough to just say in words that I like to cook when I don’t even spend time doing it.
Let’s call this my 2021 resolution, and let’s start it with one of my recent favorites: Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Chicken Breast with Simple Mashed Potatoes. Quite a lengthy name for this delicious combo, but it’s much simpler than it sounds.
I came across the recipe for the chicken on the Cafe Delites blog and knew immediately I had to make it. I wanted to make it so much I even splurged on a jar of artichoke just for this recipe. But I knew I couldn’t stop at just the chicken, because it doesn’t quite feel complete. You see, whenever I cook (and bake) these days, I always think about pairings. It can be a main plus a side, or a main plus a dessert, or a main plus a special drink, as long as it’s a mix and match type of meal. I’ve been really enjoying the research process for these meal combos, and enjoying it more when I manage to find a really good pairing, like this Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Chicken dish with classic mashed potatoes.
Both chicken and mashed potatoes are fairly straightforward to make, but satisfying and delicious. I purposefully made the mashed potatoes taste as classic as possible, because I wanted it not to steal any thunder from the chicken. It’s just a buttery, fluffy mashed potato with salt and pepper. You can season it with anything you wish, but if you eat it with the sauce and the chicken it’s perfection.
The chicken is where all the flavor is at. The spinach-artichoke filling has three kinds of cheese, and you also use it for the sauce. The chicken is juicy and tender because it’s cooked using a combination of pan-searing and steaming. If the pictures aren’t enough to prove how tender and juicy this chicken is, check out my video below.
- This recipe uses bottled marinated artichoke hearts. I used the Molinera brand but you can use whatever is available. You will need only 85 grams for one recipe but feel free to double if you like, since you’ll be using this for both filling and sauce. (The sauce goes great with the mashed potatoes, let me tell ya.) Leftover artichokes can be used for a recipe I’ll be sharing here soon. If you really don’t want to buy artichoke, just sub with same amount of spinach.
- The mashed potatoes are very easy to make, although as I mentioned, it’s a super classic, simply seasoned mashed potato recipe, so if you want it more flavorful, you can add cheese, or paprika, cayenne, etc. Or you can eat it with the spinach-artichoke sauce if you decide to double the recipe. I usually eat them all together.
- When you slice your chicken breast to fill it, be careful that you don’t slice all the way end to end. Stop slicing when you have about 1 inch on the other end, effectively creating a flap or pocket. This will help keep the filling inside and maintain the shape of the chicken when you flip, even without the toothpick method.
- A thick cut of chicken breast can be tricky to cook, but just follow my instructions here and you should have a juicy and tender chicken breast rather than a dry one. When you place your chicken in the pan to sear it, cover the pan with a lid so you can trap the heat inside. The steam will gently cook the upper part of the chicken while keeping moisture inside. Cook each side and steam each sides about 6 to 7 minutes, letting the chicken develop a golden brown crust before flipping.
Creamy Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Chicken Breast with Simple Mashed Potatoes
For the filling and sauce
- 60 grams fresh or frozen spinach, (thawed if frozen) squeezed dry
- 85 grams marinated artichoke hearts, from a bottle, finely chopped
- 125 grams cream cheese, at room temperature
- ¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- ⅛ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
- ½ tablespoon minced garlic
- Salt, to taste
- ½ cup whole milk
- ½ cup heavy cream
For the chicken seasoning
- 2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning or dried basil
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Salt and pepper
- 900 grams to 1 kilogram, approximately 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Oil, for cooking
For the mashed potatoes
- 1 kilogram potatoes, peeled and cut into similarly-sized portions
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoon salted butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup half and half cream or whole milk
- ¼ teaspoon white or black pepper, plus more to taste
- Chopped basil leaves or green onions
Make the filling
- In a medium bowl, combine the spinach, artichokes, cream cheese, mozzarella, parmesan, and garlic. Mix until well-combined and a paste-like mixture is formed. Transfer half to another bowl for making the sauce later on.
Season the chicken
- In a small bowl, mix together Italian seasoning, paprika, salt, and pepper. Place each chicken breast on a flat surface then season both sides with the spice mixture, patting to adhere and spread the paprika all over.
- Support each piece of chicken breast from the top with a hand, and cut a pocket 3/4 of the way through. Be careful not to cut all the way through.
- Lift the upper flap of the chicken and add 1 to 2 Tablespoons of the filling into the newly formed pocket. Spread evenly with the back of a spoon, then re-align the upper flap. The filling will peek through a little through the opening. Using toothpicks, seal the chicken breasts to keep the filling inside while cooking. At this point, you can start making the mashed potatoes. Otherwise, proceed with the chicken recipe.
Cook the chicken
- Heat oil in a skillet or non stick pan over medium heat. (Amount of oil will depend on how many you will cook at once. 1 Tablespoon should be enough for 2 breasts.) Add chicken into the hot oil and cover with a lid. Cook the first side until seared golden and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes depending on thickness of chicken. Flip the breasts and cook the other side the same way. Make sure to cover the pan with a lid so the trapped steam can help gently cook the chicken and keep it tender and juicy.
- Move cooked chicken to a serving plate. Into the same pan, add the remaining half of the filling you set aside earlier. Add in the milk and cream. Stir until sauce is combined and slightly thickened. It won't thicken fully until you remove it from the heat. Now you can either place the chicken back into the pan with the sauce and serve it as is, or serve the sauce on the side.
Make the mashed potatoes
- Into a medium pot, place the potatoes and fill with enough cold water to fully cover the potatoes. Add salt to the water and stir.
- Bring the potatoes to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender. If all the potatoes are cut into equal sized pieces, they should all cook at the same time.
- Drain the potatoes and mash using a potato masher. Add the butter, half and half/milk, white pepper, and a good pinch of salt. Mix into the mashed potatoes until well-combined and smooth. It should also look fluffy. Taste and adjust seasoning. Top with chopped basil or green onions. Serve with the chicken. This tastes great with the spinach-artichoke sauce too.
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