October may not be the showiest month of the year in Southern Arizona (for fall leaves we have to drive up nearby Mt. Lemon–all of 45 minutes away) but it is my favorite month of the year. Temperatures are predictably moderate. Windows and doors can be wide open all day and no A.C. or furnace needed. So despite the doubters–we do have autumn.
This recipe for Autumn Stuffed Chicken Breasts is not an ancestral hand-me-down, although stuffing things into other things is a very long tradition in cooking. Very popular in the 16th and 17th century, and I have no doubt the Romans and Greeks stuffed fowl, too.
In my never ending quest to channel my ancestors who never let anything go to waste, I looked at what was in the fridge and thought, I could chop up that withering apple, mix in some of those dried cranberries that I keep forgetting about, and use up that little chunk of cheese. I just need to thaw a boneless chicken breast and make stuffed chicken breasts. Grandma would be proud.
Just like Grandma, I always have a chicken to eat. Except Grandma would have gone out to the yard, picked a chicken that had not been laying well and wrung its neck. Then she would hang it by its feet on the clothesline to bleed out. Later she would boil a pot of water, take it outdoors, dip the chicken in the hot water and then sit at an outdoor table surrounded by a cloud of feathers as she plucked away. Finally there are those pesky pin feathers, that need to be singed in order to get them off. In older times, a wood fire, and in my Grandma’s day the gas flame from the stovetop would work. And then there’s the butchering.
Thanks goodness for grocery stores and freezers!
Once I had dreamed up my recipe for stuffed chicken breasts, I went looking through my old recipe books to see if I could find anything remotely similar. (No matter how creative I think I am, when I search on the Internet for a recipe similar to one I just “invented”, I find dozens almost identical to the one I thought I created.) Interestingly, although some of the older books had stuffed poultry, it was almost always stuffed with another kind of meat rather than the fruits and cheese I wanted to use. So until I can find proof otherwise, this is a modern concept.