Marinated Chicken Breast With Crab Stuffing: Done On The Grill
I get inspiration for grilling as well as acquire a tremendous amount of knowledge from grilling forums. The Internet is such a wonderful resource for ideas, recipes and helpful techniques that have helped me numerous times in creating fun and wonderful tasting dishes.
A Big Green Egg grill forum I frequent recently challenged readers to a cooking throw-down where amateur foodies like me cook a dish based on a theme and post the results on-line for readers to vote on. I thought the concept would be fun and challenging so I started thinking of what might be a unique dish to enter.
The theme for the cook-off was chicken and above and beyond that, there were not many other parameters to the throw down. That, and that parts, or the entire dish had to be made on the Big Green Egg, of course.
Now, chicken is about as blank of a culinary canvas as I could have been handed. Chicken is one of my most favorite meats to dine on, and also to cook. But re-inventing the versatile meat and deciding what I was going to make left me feeling fouled out. The forum holding the informal contest being one of my greatest forms of inspiration would not settle for simple kebabs, saucy chicken pizza, or boneless and slathered with barbecue sauce. Instead, I went for a more passive-aggressive approach, stuffing the chicken with the makings of crab cakes and allowing each other to cross-pollinate flavors.
With a paring knife, I slashed open the center of the boneless, skinless chicken breast, exposing a deep divot that would be perfect for holding the crab stuffing, while preventing it from falling though. The cut, raw chicken breasts went into a marinating vessel half full of Italian salad dressing for a few hours to take on flavor and keep the lean chicken juicy.
I often use a canned lump crabmeat for my crab cakes because it is good quality and readily available. The crabmeat comes predominantly in large lumps and when I incorporate all of the ingredients, I take special care not to break up those lumps.
Doing this allows for the crab to have various pockets and unevenness which I feel makes it cook more evenly while allowing for better flavor penetration from the grill. Often crab cakes are so inundated with breading and fillers that they become a soggy, wet mess that smells of low tide on a hot day. My crab cake recipe is simple and it allows the crab to be center stage.
Using a flat spatula and my fingers to stuff the chicken breasts, I make sure not to pack the crab or form it too tightly, but to allow the split in the chicken to cradle the crab on top for cooking.
The crab stuffed chicken breasts went on to my grill at about 350F. Raised and roasting, it cooked for close to 40 minutes until I thought it was done. I wanted to make sure that the chicken was cooked thoroughly, but at the same time I was going for a crisp, golden brown color on the crab stuffing as well.
I was very happy with how the crab-stuffed chicken turned out. Both the chicken and the crabmeat can be bland on their own, but combining the two atop the grill brought flavors that complemented each other with many pleasant subtleties. An extra added bonus was that we grilled off the additional crab stuffing like crab cakes for a yummy lunch the next day.
As far as how I faired in the contest, the votes have not yet been tallied. But judging from the compliments I got around my kitchen, it was no contest.