Chicken off the ferry

Living on an island is generally great except when you need to do stuff that a town of 3,000 people can’t support. Like going to Costco. I used to work across the street from Costco in San Francisco and I’d run over there most days for the $1.61 hot-dog-and-soda special. Plus free samples… and if you get there during the early business member hours they have free muffins and coffee. Now there’s no running to Costco, instead, it’s a 10 hour day by the time you get the car in the ferry line, take the $50 boat ride , drive 30 minutes, etc. Almost why bother? Except that I love shopping there. I love walking up and down the aisles and looking at the piles of crap that are suddenly not so expensive because someone bought them by the metric shitload. Flashlights used to be my weakness; as a result, I have maglights rolling around the floorboards of my car and under my bed and all sorts of other places. Most with dead batteries, because those are still expensive.

Truth is, I could get away with not shopping there if I didn’t like it so much. The stores on the island are pretty good; they’ve got most everything I actually need in life. The prices are a little higher, but, then, someone else does that 10 hour / $50 trip for me, so fair enough. Cheese, though. I really like cheese. But hard to call it something I “actually need.” And there the trip to Costco makes lots of sense, as long as I can save enough money to justify the $50 ferry ride. Because now, instead of $9 getting me a small block of gorgonzolla that I’d better not waste because it costs more than my main dish, I get almost 2 pounds of it. Enough to cut off hunks to give to the kids. 2 pounds is enough to just toss into a recipe because it sounds like it might be good.

Which I did. We got off the ferry around 4:30 with all our crap piled around us (should probably count that towards the time of the trip)… start putting the stuff away and then Suzanne wants me to help her with a project, stringing a line between two trees so she can take pictures of quilts. All of a sudden, it’s 6:00 and we haven’t started dinner. We could just throw together some pasta or rice and beans or something… that seems to be the way late dinners usually go, but I’m hungrier than that. And we’ve got a bunch of Costco chicken breasts and this huge block of gorgonzolla.

I remember a recipe from a few years back… it’s still shoved in the recipe folder. It says the total time is 45 minutes. Let’s give it a go. Crank on the oven, grab the scale, get that Gorgonzolla and we’re off. Basically, the plan is pretty simple: cut open the chicken, load it up with cheese, and cook it.

Stuffing a chicken breast isn’t that hard, really. The recipe called for the whole thing, but all I had were the boneless, skinless ones. Whatever. Stick a filet knife in the side and slice around in there, trying to make as big a pocket as I can. But no going all the way through or all the cheese will melt out. Then chop up about an ounce of the Gorgonzolla and jam it through the knife hole to fill out the whole thing. Dump some salt and pepper on it and toss it into a skillet of hot olive oil. I gave it about 4 minutes a side to brown, I guess. In the middle, Suzanne asked me to do some more ladder work, so she took over. This turned out to be a pretty good deal all around, because she knew where some prosciutto was hiding in the fridge. Like pretty much everything, this is better when you add some bacon. By the time I got off the ladder, there was a slice of prosciutto sticking to each breast in the pan. Did I mention that my wife is awesome?

After both sides were brown, I popped the whole pan into the oven for another 10 minutes to cook it all the way through and melt the cheese. When I stuck the thermocouple in after that, it was only at 130, so I gave it another 4 minutes. That was more than enough… cheese was running out with chicken juice into a great looking mess. I pulled the whole thing out of the oven, eventually remembering that the silicon handle of the pot gets hotter than shit and requires an oven mit. Pulled the chicken off to a plate and then dumped in about 1/3 cup of water and 2 tablespoons of balsalmic vinegar… one of those other treats that’s not necessary for life but is sure sweet when Costco pricing means you can toss it around in the hopes that things taste better. This boiled all the cheese drippings into a lumpy sauce.

Chicken on to plates, sauce onto chicken, corn on the cob next door and we’re sitting down in 45 minutes. And it was great. When I’ve tried this before, I only put the cheese in the thickest part of the breast, but I’m better at putting a pocket into meat now, so there was cheese all the way out to the tip. Way better than rice and beans and will clearly make a serious sandwich tomorrow. Although, I just got an email from a pilot friend, who wants to know if I want to make a quick flight to  Costco tomorrow. So maybe I’ll be eating a $1.61 hot dog.



Adapted from Gourmet (2008)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

4 ounces Gorgonzolla cheese

4 slices prosciutto

2 tbls balsalmic vinegar

Salt, Pepper, Olive oil
Pre-heat oven to 425ºF. Pour oil into oven-proof skillet and heat up.

Rinse the chicken breasts and pat them dry. Use a thin, sharp filet knife to cut a pocket in them. The idea is to cut them into 2 layers through as small a hole as possible. I shove the knife into the middle of the thickest part and just scrape as close to the edges as I can. Watch the tip moving around so it doesn’t break through.

Shove 1 oz of cheese through the hole, and spread out throughout the breast.

Salt and pepper both sides of chicken. Slap a slice of prosciutto on top.

Brown chicken breasts in oil, about 4 minutes / side. Do the prosciutto side first to try to get it to stick to the chicken.

When it’s brown, pop the pan into the oven for 10-15 minutes.

Pull the pan out (Don’t be a dope. Use an oven mit) and move the chicken to a platter. Put the pan back on the burner on medium and add 1/3 cup water and 2 Tbls balsalmic vinegar. Cook, stirring to incorporate cheese drippings and reduce a bit.

That’s it. Enjoy



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