Chicken Involtini Part II: Collard greens, feta, pine nuts, & bacon

See also Chicken Involtini Part I: Apple & Bacon

As we were making up our recipes for the involtini we found that a lot of them called for spinach. We wanted to make the most of the ingredients we had on hand and we still had a bunch of collard greens from our CSA box, a fitting, if not obvious, substitute for fresh spinach. Most people think that collard greens need to be cooked for hours in a pot of water with a lot of smoked pork, but eating the greens raw, or just blanched, is a wonderful way to enjoy the big flavors of this hearty green.

The filling, a Mediterranean-inspired mix of feta, raisins, pine nuts, and bacon, comes together with sweet salty crunchy goodness.

Mediterranean inspired Involtini

Filling
1 slice bacon
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
1/8 cup pine nuts
1/8 cup golden raisins
salt and pepper

4 large collard greens, stems removed (chard, kale, or spinach can also be substituted)

2 chicken breasts

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 small shallot, minced
¼ cup vermouth
1-cup chicken stock
1-tablespoon butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Fry the bacon in a small sauté pan over low-medium heat until crisp. Remove the bacon and set aside to cool, once cool, crumble into small bits. In a small bowl combine bacon, feta cheese and pine nuts, season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Add water to a skillet filling it half-way up. Heat the water to a simmer and blanch the collard greens for 30 seconds to two minutes, or until the leaves are pliable. Dry on a clean towel.

Carefully butterfly the chicken breasts by cutting through the center of each as if you were opening a book. Do not cut all the way through. Open the breast and place between two sheets of plastic wrap. Using the flat end of a meat tenderizer or the flat bottom of a small sauté pan, gently, but firmly, pound the chicken breast between the plastic making sure to pull the mallet or pan away from the center of the breast toward the edges of the cutlet. Pound each breast until about ¼ to 1/8 inch thick. Season the inner part of the breast with salt and pepper.

Place two leaves on each breast and divide the filling between the two. Spread the filling evenly over each breast, leaving about ¼ inch on each side. Roll each breast starting with the thin end first, being careful that the filling does not fall out. If needed, secure the breasts with toothpicks to keep the filling in.

Fill and roll.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the chicken breast to the pan, presentation side down, and cook for 3-4 minutes. Be sure not to move the chicken breast until it releases from the pan on its own. Turn and sear on remaining three sides, each about 3-4 minutes. Place in the oven for approximately 10 minutes or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the involtini reads 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fry the involtini in a lot of oil to keep from sticking to the pan.

Remove involtini from the oven and transfer to a plate. If any cheese has dropped on to the skillet remove it. Place the skillet over medium heat, add the shallot and sauté for a couple of minutes or until translucent. Add the vermouth and scrap the bottom of the pan to get all the good bits from the bottom. Cook until almost evaporated then add the chicken stock and reduce by half, about 5 minutes. Off heat, whisk in the soft butter, and season with salt and pepper.

Slice involtini into one-inch thick rounds and serve with pan sauce.

43 thoughts on “Chicken Involtini Part II: Collard greens, feta, pine nuts, & bacon

  1. Oh yum! That looks like an amazing fusion of flavours. I love nuts in food, especially pine nuts. I love a good chicken and bacon combination too. Thanks for the recipe!

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  2. Pingback: Chicken Involtini Part II: Collard greens, feta, pine nuts, & bacon (via (y)our food choices™) « amesapuestavoy

  3. It’s strange that so many people think you need to cook the heck out of collards and then hide their flavor with lots of smokey pork (tasty but totally unnecessary). Collard greens have a robust but fresh flavor when cooked more briefly and I adore how you guys have highlighted them here.

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  4. WOW! Thanks everyone for the kind words. We are thrilled to have WordPress feature our blog post. Stay tuned for the third involtini recipe. If you liked the first two your really going to love our poached chicken involitini with wild mushroom.
    Cheers,
    Jason & Steve

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  5. Trying to cook this tonight but I can’t figure out if I am supposed to place the filling on top of the closed, but butterflied, breasts or place the filling inside the opened, butterflied breasts. I assume the latter. However, my pounded butterflied breast halves always look like wings with a connecting piece lol. I will try not to butterfly them too close to the edge of the breast. I assume the wide, middle section of the second half of the breast will cover anything to keep the filling from falling out. And yes, I over analyze everything lol. But I cook a creative and gourmet meal or southern comfort meal every night. So this should turn out great 🙂

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      • It turned out magnificent! I have to say, even though I am from New Orleans, I have never tried collard greens. Can I just tell you that you have turned me onto a new food. Even just blanching was fine for eating by itself, I particularly liked the “stemn” . Thank you! I also admit I did not use vermouth as I did not have any on hand, so I substituted with white wine. It turned out really well. I had to use the toothpicks to keep it together while cooking. Also had to use the oven a little longer than 10 minutes, quite a bit longer but I covered it loosely in foil and basted it just to be sure it wouldn’t dry out. The combination of the greens, raisins (I just love golden raisins) , bacon and the feta–just superb! It is difficult for me to like breast meat, I tend to prefer the fatty and flavorful thigh meat lol, but the stuffing really helped. Thank you again, it was incredibly good and now on my frequent meals list 🙂

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  6. Mmmmm sounds and looks so delicious! I will have to try it! I have a question however, can I translate the recipe into Russian and publish with your names and a link to this blog?
    Congratulations on being Freshly pressed by the way! 🙂

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  7. Pingback: Chicken Involtini Part III: Wild Mushroom & Whisky « (y)our food choices™

Food for thought.

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