With the exception of East Williamsburg, just about every apartment I rented in New York City had at least one bodega on the corner. In fact most blocks had several bodegas, a couple of Korean fruit & vegetable markets and possibly a Whole Foods/Trader Joes.
Now that we live in the Hudson Valley that’s just not the case any more (though now we own a house and have a garden and a dog and a bunch of chickens*, so okay, fair trade). But the truth is that, even three years later, I’m still adjusting to the idea that I can’t yell out my window and have someone throw a jalapeño at me.
*I didn’t include cats in this list because I always had cats in the city.
So the other day, I’m walking around the grocery store and find that organic, thin-sliced chicken cutlets are on sale. “Awesome!” I say to myself, because I am literally that much of a dork.
Now if you follow this blog at all, you might have noticed that I almost always use thighs for baking and roasting because I think they have much more flavor. But the one thing you can’t do (easily) with chicken thighs? Stuff them.
So now I’m imagining some kind of crispy, panko-crusted chicken stuffed with some sort of cheesy, creamy, spicy deliciousness. Sounds good right? I thought so too, until I got home and realized that I had completely forgotten to get jalapeños which, surprisingly enough, happen to be a rather important ingredient in jalapeño-popper stuffed chicken.
I hemmed and hawed about it for about four seconds before I decided that, yup, nothing else would do. Back to the store for three dollars worth of chiles.
I don’t regret a thing.
- Don’t wash raw chicken!
- Here’s good trick for cutting jalapeño (or any pepper) flesh away from the seeds. Slice off the stem and the first 1/2 in or so of flesh. Hold the pepper upright and cut straight down, avoiding the membrane. Do this in sections until the pepper is de-seeded. (Pictured above, in gallery).
- The spiciness of peppers can very greatly. I’ve had jalapeños that were so spicy I could barely eat them, and others that tasted like regular green peppers. Taste a tiny bit to check where yours lands and adjust amount accordingly.
- Don’t forget to wash your hands well after handing chicken AND hot peppers. Seriously, pepper hands + eyes/genitals = 🙁
- NOTE: This chicken can be baked instead of pan fried. Instructions for both methods below.
Jalapeño Popper Stuffed Chicken Breasts
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced in half lengthwise (to make 4 thin slices), or 4 thin cutlets
- Kosher salt and
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 oz. cream cheese room temperature
- 2 jalapeños seeded and diced
- 1 garlic clove grated or minced
- 1 ⁄4 cup cheddar cheese shredded
- 2 scallions thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon lime zest finely grated (about 1 lime worth)
- 1 cup flour
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil like canola or grapeseed, or if baking only, cooking spray
- Lime wedges for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
- In a bowl, mix cream cheese, scallions, jalapeños, garlic, cheddar cheese lime zest and lime juice together.
- On a clean cutting board, lay each chicken breast flat and season both sides with kosher salt and pepper. Spread 1 tablespoon of the jalapeño mixture into the middle of each breast, leaving about a 1/4 inch of the edges free. Roll each strip, starting with the narrow end and use toothpicks in the middle and on each end to secure it. Refrigerate the rolled chicken for 15 minutes.
- Dip each piece first in flour, then in egg and then dredge in breadcrumbs (to keep from ending up with goopy hands, try to use one hand for the egg and the other for flour and breadcrumbs).
- Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat and add oil. Pan fry until crispy and golden on all sides (about 3-4 minutes per side) and then transfer to a baking sheet. Bake for 7-10 minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked.
- If you want to simply bake and not pan fry, skip the skillet, place chicken rolls on a baking sheet and spray the chicken with cooking spray. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes. They will still get brown and crispy, but not quite as crisp as the pan-fry method.
- Remove the toothpicks and serve on a platter with fresh lime wedges (if using).