Ever get inspired by something someone else has come up with but thought to yourself "what a load of hassle"?
A while back Chris borrowed the Jamie Oliver 30 minute cookbook; all recipes designed to be cooked in 30min by someone moving as fast as humanly possible and supported by a team who continually provide prepared ingredients and clear everything up. She once followed one of these recipes which took around 2 1/2 hours to prepare, while struggling to get some of the ingredients. It was delicious, but a huge faff and quite expensive too.
To me, anything that is to be cooked in a pan should take no more than 40min tops, genuinely, from start to finish, and maybe a bit more if you want to plan in jacket potatoes or similar needing a long time in the oven. The essence of pan cooking is to be tasty, exciting and quick. So here's a recipe from Amie - just a bit less effort than Jamie.
Amie's stuffed chicken breasts.
Buy whole chicken breasts, 1 per person, skin on or off (you'll remove it anyway) that look decent and suitable to present for a nice meal.
Greek feta cheese or similar - feta is nice, but expensive, and I used Tesco Greek 'style' salad cheese for my first go at 75p a pack (not so good, but acceptable).
Green olives - a small pack from someone like Crespo, with herbs rather than chilli, although you could use garlic stuffed too.
Remove all fat and manky bits from the chicken - veins, connective tissue etc, leaving a whole attractive breast. Slit it open to make a pocket that can be easily held closed during cooking.
Slice the Feta into slices around 2-3mm thick.
Open up the breast pocket and add a good teaspoon full of green pesto - NOTE if working from the jar, don't put the same spoon back in that has touched the chicken breast - use a fresh spoon for each time you take pesto.
Coat the inside of the pocket with the pesto, then add a layer of feta, filling out the pocket. Seal the pocket up and hold closed with cocktail sticks.
Cook in a pan lightly greased with olive oil, on a low-middle heat (I use 2 out of 5 on my hob) for about 15-20 min, turning twice, until you're sure the chicken is cooked all the way through. Keep the pan covered to keep the heat in.
After turning the chicken for the first time slice the olives lengthwise and add to the pan so they cook alongside.They will add tangy saltiness to the chicken on the outside while the feta does the same on the inside.
If I'd not been so bushed from log stacking then I'd have done dauphinoise potatoes: par boiled potatoes in thin slices, layered in an oven dish, covered with cream and baked until golden on top. As it was Tesco had some sliced potatoes that could be just cooked direct in the oven to come out like nicely sauteed potatoes, and they worked really well too, but you could also serve this with jacket potatoes, spiced rice or green lentils. To accompany I'd also suggest fine green beans or carrots (sometime I'll describe carrots a la Tamoiselle that would go well too).
The chicken and the olives generated a bit of juice, so to serve the cocktail sticks were removed and the juice poured over the breasts, leaving some olive slices on top.
I'm sorry there are no pictures - we ate it too quickly!