chicken mozzarella parcels
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Cutting calories from a recipe is like arguing with a toddler. A chicken dish with mozzarella: to make it skinny, the obvious choice is to cut out the mozzarella as, guess what, it’s a whopping 600cal. ‘But I want mozzarella’, ‘You can’t NOT have chicken mozzarella without mozzarella’, ‘It will be bOOOOring!’, ‘Waaaa! I want my mozzie?!’ What to do? Lock your inner toddler in their bedroom or try to cheat.
The chicken parcel stuffed with cheese idea is a gorgeous, albeit a rich one. I initially envisaged it crusty, crispy, golden brown on the outside; emitting a satisfying crunch when you take a bite just before the runny garlicky cheese oozes out. But deep frying! batter! breadcrumbs and flour coating! puff pastry! filo pastry! was all out of the question from the calorie cutting point of view. I know – baking it in the pastry and leaving it out on my plate would be a solution but ‘leaving food on the plate’ is not a phrase I’m very familiar with.
So I came up with the simplest solution: a parcel as we know is wrapped in paper is it not? I shaped my chicken balls (with lots of mozzarella inside) and wrapped them in buttered parchment. A dainty piece of string tied in a bow completed the look. And it worked – there was no crunch or crust but the experience was – well, like a breaded stuffed chicken bereft of the breadcrumbs.
Use parchment though, not foil, or you’ll end up with a totally boil-in-a-bag chicken. And if you’re one of those repulsively lucky individuals who don’t count calories, knock yourself out and use two sheets of buttered filo.
For the record, one portion is about 575cal. For masochists, 275 without the mozzarella.
chicken mozzarella parcelsServings: 2Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- 2 chicken fillets, skinless
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes
- a handful of fresh basil leaves
- ½ tsp coarse black pepper
- 1 tbsp. grated parmesan
- 200g (6oz.) cooking mozzarella, diced
- a little butter to brush the parchment
Make a deep horizontal incision in the chicken fillets, to open them like a butterfly. Cover each fillet with cling film and flatten them with a mallet (or the bottom of a small saucepan) as thinly as you can. Try to keep them in roughly round shape but it’s not a huge issue if they turn out irregular.
Mash the garlic to a paste with the salt, basil and pepper in pestle and mortar. Prepare two squares of parchment paper, about 30x30cm, depending on how large your chicken fillets are. Butter the middle of the parchment on one side. Prepare two lengths of kitchen string to tie the parcels.
Sprinkle the skin side of the chicken fillets with parmesan. Place the parchment, buttered side over the chicken and turn it all over using a spatula if necessary.
Spread half the garlic paste over the inside of each chicken piece, pile half the mozzarella pieces in the middle and scoop the parcel in your hands to close the meat up over the mozzarella with the parchment.Twist the top without sealing it tightly so the steam can escape. Tie with the string. Do the other parcel in the same way. Place them both on a baking tray and chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Place the parcels on the tray in the lower half of the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until you can see the juices bubbling vigorously inside through the parchment. Let them stand for a few minutes before opening. Serve in the parchment or remove the parcels onto plates and cut to reveal the oozing cheese.