Chicken with Garlic and Herbed Goat Cheese and Polenta

Nothing is better than good food with good friends, which is exactly why last night was so great. Not to mention the two bottles of red wine that were consumed as well.  I love cooking for people, so it’s nice when I can actually find the time to do it. Mostly though, it’s just great to spend time with people who make you laugh and who you can have interesting conversations with. Lingering over great food is just an added benefit.

I’ve read in several magazines that you should not attempt to try new recipes when you have company over. Pffft. What fun is that? I’d rather try something new and exciting when we have people over instead of serving them something substandard just because I know it will be okay. ‘Okay’ being the operative word. And besides, if you try something new and it tanks, there’s always dessert to fill up on. Because lets be serious, it’s hard to go wrong when it comes to dessert. It also gives you something to laugh about later… When the embarrassment subsides. But thankfully, lasts nights dinner was a yummy success. On the menu:  Chicken stuffed with garlic and herbed goat cheese and buttery parmesan polenta. And yes, the chicken recipe is from the abandoned stack of Cooking Lights from the laundry room. Such a jackpot.

Buttery Parmesan Polenta

6 cups of water
1 tsp salt
2 cups of dry polenta
3 tbsp of butter
3/4 cup of fresh parmesan, grated

Using a large deep pan, bring water and salt to a boil. Gradually stir in polenta while mixing. Reduce heat and gently simmer, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes (or until very thick). Stir in butter and parmesan.

Chicken stuffed with Garlic and Herbed Goat Cheese
Adapted from Cooking Light, October 2007

1 whole head of garlic
1/3 cup of herbed goat cheese, softened
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 tbsp of olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove papery skin from garlic (do not separate cloves!). Wrap the garlic head in foil paper and bake for one hour. Let it cool for about 15 minutes. Separate the cloves and squeeze to extract pulp into a bowl. Add the goat cheese and stir well. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a frying pan. Cut a horizontal slit through the thickest portion of each chicken breast to form a pocket. Stuff about 1 1/2 tbsp of cheese mixture into each pocket. I also used a few toothpicks to keep the cheese mixture in, just make sure you take them out before they are served! Sprinkle chicken with desired  amount of salt and pepper. Add chicken to frying pan and cook about 4 minutes a side, or until lightly browned. Line a baking sheet and coat with a non-stick spray. Bake chicken on sheet for about 20 minutes.

For presentation value, instead of everyone serving themselves, I served the polenta in the middle of each plate with the chicken on top. I also sauteed green beans and served them on the side. YUM!

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