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These boneless, chicken breast dishes are anything but boring

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By Norm Harding, Reporter

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are the ultimate fast food for family and guests-quick to prepare and low in fat. But if you’re like me, they can be boring.

Before I share a few of my favorites, why not review the best way to sauté chicken breasts for tender, juicy, anything-but-boring results? You’ll need four boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 5 oz. each) for each dish of four servings.

Place the breasts smooth side down and gently pull off the fillets (tenders) so breasts will cook evenly. You can save the fillets for a stir-fry some day. Coat each breast with mixture of flour, salt and pepper, and then shake off any excess. Next, heat about 2 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a large, non-stick skillet. Add the breasts and cook about 5 minutes, turning once, until golden on outside and juices run clear. Now all you need to decide is which dish to make.

My favorite chicken breast dishes

I’ve chosen four of my favorite dishes featuring chicken breasts to share. If you haven’t made these before, now is the time. They’re fun, easy to make and use ingredients normally found in your kitchen or garden.

Grecian Stuffed Chicken Breasts and Sautéed Chicken Breasts with Olives and Lemon offer a distinct Mediterranean flavor. One features a chicken breast stuffed with feta cheese, spinach, garlic and oregano and wrapped in bacon and baked in the oven. The other features the fragrance of green onions, olives, sage, thyme and lemon spooned over sautéed chicken breasts.

Chicken in Basil Cream with Pimentos is truly a classic chicken dish served over linguini and then covered with a creamy basil and pimento sauce.

My all-time favorite, though, is Chicken and Pasta with Parmesan, Brown Butter and Sage Sauce. The cooked chicken breasts are placed over linguini, and when served, are covered with grated Parmesan cheese. The fried sage leaves in butter sauce is then poured over the grated cheese at the table so your guests can here the “crackle” of the sauce when spooned over the cheese.

Grecian Stuffed          Chicken Breasts

This dish has a truly “Greek” flavor to it. Don’t be stingy with the garlic and oregano.

4 (5-6 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 (10-oz.) pkg. frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

3/4 cup crumbled garlic and herb feta cheese

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. paprika

1 Tbsp. oregano

4 slices of bacon

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut a pocket into each chicken breast; sprinkle all sides with oregano. Set aside.

Combine spinach with feta cheese, mayonnaise and garlic; mix well. Divide and stuff into chicken pockets. Wrap each breast with one strip of bacon. Sprinkle with paprika. Place breasts on a rack in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish (lined with foil for easy clean-up). Bake uncovered for 50 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.

Place chicken over a bed of rice pilaf. For added garnish, add some diced tomatoes and crumbled feta cheese on top of each chicken breast. Makes 4 servings.

Sautéed Chicken Breasts with Olives and Lemon

This is another Mediterranean-style chicken dish that features the fragrance of green onions, olives, sage, thyme and lemon spooned over sautéed chicken breasts.

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

1 large, fresh lemon

1 Tbsp. butter

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

3-4 green onions, sliced (white and green parts)

1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved

1/2 cup green stuffed olives, halved

1/2 tsp. dried or ground sage leaves

1 tsp. dried thyme

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Season the chicken generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Peal the lemon to expose the flesh. Cut the lemon segments from the membranes and place in a small bowl. 

In a large skillet, heat the butter and the oil over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken on one side until golden-brown, about 4-5 minutes. Turn over and saute the other side another 3-4 minutes, or until juices run clear. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add the green onions, olives, sage, thyme and lemon segments; cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. To serve, spoon equal amounts of mixture over chicken breasts. Serve with rice pilaf. Makes 4 servings.

Chicken in Basil               Cream with Pimentos

This is truly a classic chicken dish that you’ll be making time and again. Instead of making your cream sauce from scratch, you can just use a jar of your favorite Alfredo sauce.

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

3 Tbsps. butter

1 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 jar (4 oz.) sliced pimentos, drained

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup minced, fresh basil

1/8 tsp. fresh ground pepper

Place milk and breadcrumbs in separate shallow bowls. Dip chicken in milk, and then coat with crumbs. In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook chicken in butter on both sides until juices run clear, about 10 minutes. Remove and keep warm.

Add broth to the skillet. Bring to a boil over medium heat; stir to loosen brown bits from pan. Stir in cream and pimentos; boil and stir for one minute. Reduce heat. Add Parmesan cheese, basil andpepper; cook and stir until heated through. Place chicken over a bed of your favorite linguini. Pour sauce over chicken. Makes 4 servings.

Chicken and Pasta with Parmesan, Brown          Butter and Sage Sauce

This is my all-time favorite chicken and pasta dish and it’s really easy to make. Serve the sage sauce at the table so your guests can here the “crackle” when the sauce is placed over the grated cheese.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 Tbsps. butter (for cooking chicken)

2 sticks (8 oz.) butter 

2 cups whole sage leaves, loosely packed with stems removed

1-16 oz. pkg. linguini, cooked “al dente”

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook chicken in butter on both sides until juices run clear, about 10 minutes (Chicken can also be grilled, if you prefer). Remove and keep warm. Add 2 sticks butter to the skillet. Bring to a boil over medium heat; stir to loosen brown bits from pan. Add whole sage leaves; continue over medium heat just until butter starts to brown. Do not overheat or butter will burn.

Place each chicken breast on a bed of linguini and top with Parmesan cheese. Spoon the hot, sage sauce over the cheese, being sure to be generous with the crisp, sage leaves. Best to serve the sauce at the table, so guests can here the “crackle” when the sauce is placed over the cheese. Makes 4 servings.