Chicken Involtini Part III: Wild Mushroom & Whisky

Wow! Has it really been a year since our Chicken Involtini experiment? We did so well getting the first two recipes up, Chicken Involtini Part I (Apple & Bacon) & Part II (Collards, Feta & Bacon), our most popular blog posts to date, thanks to Foodpress and WordPress. One would think that with the fame and popularity of the earlier posts, we would be blogging about stuffed chicken on a daily basis, at the very least the much promised involtini part III would have gone up right away. Alas, other food obsessions stole our attention and Steve waited and waited to get his version of involtini written up and then time got away from him. We figure since we’re growing mushrooms and our last post was all about that experiment, now might be a good time to revisit this unusual preparation for chicken and mushrooms. It’s also our 150th blog post – a major accomplishment even if it has taken us 3 years to reach this goal.

Butterflying the chicken breast.

The idea here was to produce a boneless, skinless breast that was flavorful and moist. Seasoning bland chicken breast is rarely an issue for the home cook. The challenge is cooking the meat through without drying it out. Most of us fail most of the time.

We took a slow poach approach to this one, simmering the stuffed breast in a broth seasoned with mushroom, rosemary and whisky. The woodsy flavors of dry mushroom, resinous rosemary and smoky whisky made for an interesting dish. While the technique looks to be a bit fussy, it wasn’t at all difficult. You just need to take the time to rehydrate the dry wild mushrooms. Everything else comes together quickly.

Poached Chicken Involtini w/ Wild Mushroom Stuffing

1 package dry Santini mixed wild mushrooms (25g)

Poaching Liquid:
4 cups water
2 cups veggie broth
6-8 fresh button or Crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/8 cup Johnny Walker Black Label, Scotch Whisky
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
Salt to taste

The poaching liquid

2 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 oz parma cheese, shredded
¼ cup dry bread crumbs
1 small shallot, minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
olive oil
Salt & pepper

Place dry mushrooms in a medium bowl. Pour two cups boiling water over the dry mushrooms. Set aside to rehydrate, about 10 minutes. Note: the strained water will be added to the poaching liquid.

In a large saucepan over high heat add the water, veggie broth, and whisky, along with the sprig of rosemary, sliced mushrooms, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Season the broth with salt to taste. Keep the broth at a low simmer while preparing the chicken breasts.

Whiskey; the secret ingredient.

Preparing the chicken:

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. 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 away from the center 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.

Mushroom filling.

Preparing the mushroom stuffing:

Drain rehydrated wild mushrooms, adding the liquid to the poaching broth (do not add the grit at the bottom of the bowl). In the bowl of a food processor, add the rehydrated mushrooms, cheese, shallot, breadcrumbs, rosemary, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Pulse until finely chopped, being careful not to over process. The stuffing can become gummy if ground to a paste.

Spread the mushroom stuffing mixture over one side of flattened chicken breast and roll, being careful not to let the stuffing fall out of the ends of the roll. Place rolled chicken breast on a double layer of cheesecloth and wrap tightly. Tie ends off with kitchen twine.

Lower chicken breasts into the poaching liquid until fully submersed. Simmer involtini until fully cooked, about 25 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not boil. The breasts should cook slowly in the poaching liquid.

Remove involtini and allow them to rest for 10 minutes. Remove cheesecloth and slice into 1 inch thick slices. Serve with a large dollop of mashed potatoes and a couple of tablespoons of the poaching liquid.

For an Asian inspired soup; substitute the salt in the poaching liquid with soy sauce. Prepare a package of soba noodles as directed splitting the portion between bowls. Add a couple of handfuls of baby spinach and ladle the poaching broth into the bowl. Place slices of involtini in the bowls and top with chopped scallions or chives.

Snap, Crackle, Crunch AKA Last Minute No Bake Holiday Cookies

We did it again. The holidays are fast approaching and here we are with only a day left until Christmas and we procrastinated posting our annual holiday cookie blog. This blog is dedicated to all those last minute bakers that want to make something semi-homemade. Cheers to all.

Rice Krispie ™ treats are yummy, gooey, cookies that we have loved for years. While most of our blog posts are dedicated to food made from scratch, we have tried to replicate these goodies before using puffed brown rice and homemade marshmallows with depressing results. Since it is the holiday season (we believe in many different holidays during this time of year, not just Xmas!) we decided to get off our food crate – er, soap box – and work with the classic, time-tested recipe as a guide.

Our current infatuation with the Rice Krispie treat can be blamed on our recent trip to Yountville and Bouchon Bakery. The bakery sells beautiful Neapolitan Rice Krispie treats featuring decadent layers of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. They are delicious! But like most of the recipes that inspire us, we like to alter them, just a bit, and after finding Bouchon’s recipe online (these treats are very popular at Easter) and seeing the ingredients list, we knew that this one would be a very fun and delightfully easy challenge.

All the makings of snowball treats.

Coconut and White Chocolate Snowballs

Kellogg’s Rice Krispie website features a recipe for their version of “snowballs.” Home cooks rate the recipe a paltry 3 out of 5 stars and we knew that with a little help we could make them better. Using white chocolate, coconut extract, chocolate extract, and Valrhona white chocolate pearls (inspired by Bouchon’s crispies) we knew we could boost the chocolate and coconut flavors without going overboard. They turned out great rolled in sweetened coconut flakes and placed in individual paper cups. Of course, a few of the items used to make them so special are not so easy to find in most grocery stores. Lucky for us our, neighborhood grocery store is Andronico’s and as fate would have it, Jason found Valrhona pearls on display at the store. We doubt the average Walmart or town grocery store carries these candy treats, so feel free to omit them if you can’t find them.

Coconut and White Chocolate Rice Krispies Snowballs
7oz Marshmallow
1.5oz Butter
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 teaspoon chocolate extract (optional)
3oz white chocolate chips
3.5oz Rice Krispies
2.7oz Crunchy White Pearls (these are dark, milk and white chocolate covered cereal from Valrhona)
4oz sweetened coconut flakes

Bring 2” of water to a boil in a saucepot and place a bowl on top to create a double boiler. In the bowl, melt the white chocolate chips and then stir in the butter, marshmallow and extracts until the mixture has completely melted together. In a mixing bowl, fold the Rice Krispies and crunchy pearls into the marshmallow mixture. When cool enough to handle, shape the Rice Krispies mixture into small snowballs. Place the coconut on a plate and roll the balls in the coconut, gently pressing the coconut into the balls.

Cordial cherry treats in the making.

Cordial Cherries

Our other Holiday recreation is an updated Cordial Cherry. Again, taking inspiration from Bouchon’s Rice Krispie recipe we have made a part candy, part chocolate Krispie treat that we think is kind of cleaver. Using Bouchon’s recipe for their strawberry Krispie we changed the dried strawberries to dried cherries and added a little Maraschino liquor adding a little kick to them. The chocolate version is completely Bouchon’s recipe. To make the cookies we rolled small balls of cherry Krispie and then covered those in the chocolate Krispie. The results were cute, fun and very festive.

Cherry Rice Krispies
1oz dried unsweetened cherries, chopped
2oz Maraschino Liquor
7oz Marshmallow
1.5oz Butter
4.5oz Rice Krispies
4 drops Red Food Color

In a heavy bottomed saucepot add the chopped dried cherries and Maraschino liquor, cook over medium heat until the liquor is almost evaporated. Add the butter, marshmallow and food coloring whisking together until everything is completely melted. In a mixing bowl, fold the Rice Krispies into the marshmallow mixture. When cool enough to handle, shape the Rice Krispies mixture into small tablespoon balls.


Chocolate Rice Krispies
14oz Marshmallow
3oz Butter
7oz Rice Krispies
5oz Crunchy Pearls (these are dark, milk and white chocolate covered cereal from Valrhona)
4.2oz 64% Cocoa Chocolate
1oz 100% Cocoa Chocolate
0.7oz Cocoa Powder

Bring 2” of water to a boil in a saucepot and place a bowl on top to create a double boiler. In the bowl, melt the chocolates together and then stir in the butter, marshmallow and cocoa powder until the mixture has completely melted together. In a mixing bowl fold the Rice Krispies and crunchy pearls into the marshmallow mixture. When cool enough to handle, take one of the cherry Rice Krispie balls and cover it with some of the chocolate Rice Krispie, leaving the bottom of the balls with only the cherry Rice Krispie.