Stuffed chicken breasts have to be one of the easiest go-to weekday dinners – and the amount of room for creativity is fantastic. One of my most recent versions was a little overindulgent in fats, but rich enough in flavor that you could eat half the breast and be content, saving the rest to top your salad at lunch the next day.

I cooked it on a day much like today – hot and humid- so was trying to avoid anything too heavy. We ended up with a scrumptious, colorful meal that tasted of summer: mozzarella, tomato & basil salad with homemade vinaigrette (Mom’s secret recipe), a crusty baguette from Brookline’s Clear Flour Bakery, and baked chicken breasts stuffed with pesto & crème fraiche that were then rolled in pancetta & panko bread crumbs.

Mouth-watering Baked Chicken

  • Pre-heat oven to 350; grease oven-proof casserole dish
  • Fry some diced pancetta (around 4-6 tbsp) until cooked but not yet browned
  • In the meantime, trim excess fat off two chicken breasts and with a sharp knife, slice into breasts from the top, making them into pouches—do not cut all the way through
  • Set up three bowls:

Bowl 1: 2tbsp pesto, 1tbsp crème fraiche (can add more as desired), salt & pepper

Bowl 2: 1 egg, beaten

Bowl 3: Mixture of ½ cup panko breadcrumbs, ½ cup flour, and all fried pancetta (add more of anything as needed)

  • Take a spoonful of the pesto/crème fraiche mixture (from bowl 1) and drop it into a chicken breast pouch. Repeat with the remaining chicken breasts.
  • Carefully dip each stuffed chicken breast into the beaten egg in bowl 2
  • Gently place each stuffed chicken breast (now coated in egg) into bowl 3, and completely cover the chicken breasts, carefully shaking off excess
  • Place on casserole dish and place in oven for 35-40mins, broil for last 3-5mins for a golden top

The result: chicken breasts bursting with flavor, slightly crunchy pancetta on the outside and a stellar creamy pesto combo that oozes out as you cut the breast in two. The best recipes have many variations, so with that in mind, here are some other stuffing ideas:

crème fraiche, diced ham & shredded gruyere

ham & gruyere (or Swiss cheese)

ham & brie

blue cheese & mushrooms

garlic, parsley & butter

spinach & gruyere (or Swiss cheese)

basil & mozzarella (top with thinly sliced tomato last 5-10mins)

Let me know how it goes, or if you have any other great “stuffing” ideas!

Honestly, this dish is too easy and practical (talk about using up what’s in the fridge—just make it into a stuffing!) to eat out, but I’m all ears if there are some Boston-area restaurants that you think make a chicken dish that’s not to be missed.

As always, Bon Appétit!