Spinach and Brie Chicken with Tomato Orzo

I adore brie, but Dr. O and I rarely eat it. When I was in college, I used to make this wonderful Pampered Chef appetizer that was baked brie with apples, almonds, cranberries, brown sugar, and cinnamon… Heavenly. When fall rolls around, I might just have to bring that one back into rotation.

Anyway, I was surfing the Everyday Food Web site the other day looking for a particular recipe when Spinach and Brie Chicken with Tomato Orzo from the May 2008 issue caught my eye. I’ve only ever “cooked” with brie as an appetizer – mostly putting out a wedge with crackers and a cheese knife, if that counts as cooking – so I thought it would be fun to work with it in a new way.

The recipe calls for chicken cutlets, so that was my first project. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve never been able to find cutlets at the grocery store so I just take regular chicken breasts and cut them in half horizontally. (Use a sharp knife!) Once I had 8 cutlets (from 4 breasts), I put a pot of salted water on to boil for the orzo.

To make the chicken, I set out all my supplies in small containers: 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard, 1 package (10 ounces) of frozen leaf spinach (thawed), 4 ounces of brie cheese (cut into 8 slices), coarse salt, and pepper. I spread each cutlet with some mustard, topped it with spinach and a slice of brie, and then seasoned with salt and pepper. Starting at the short end, I rolled the chicken up tightly and placed it seam side down on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. (I didn’t need toothpicks to hold the chicken together.) I seasoned the chicken again with salt and pepper and broiled it in the oven (without turning) until the chicken was lightly browned and cooked through (8 minutes for my smaller pieces and 10 minutes for my larger pieces).

While the chicken cooked, I added 1 cup of orzo to the pot of boiling water. Since the chicken was in the oven and the orzo was in the pot, I had time to prepare the rest of my orzo ingredients. I cored and chopped 2 plum tomatoes, chopped 1/4 cup of fresh parsley, squeezed half a lemon to yield 1 tablespoon of juice, and cut 1 tablespoon from a stick of butter. I cooked the orzo until it was al dente (8 minutes) and added the tomatoes, parsley, lemon juice, and butter. I seasoned with salt and pepper to taste and served the orzo alongside the chicken.

This dish was so fast and really delicious. The brie inside the chicken was wonderfully creamy, and the Dijon mustard both heightened the flavor and helped keep the chicken nice and moist. The orzo was good enough to serve with *anything* – the fresh tomatoes and hint of lemon made for a fantastic side. We have a winner!

TIPS: I’ve mentioned this before, but I thaw frozen spinach by placing it in a colander and running cold water over it. Once it’s thawed, I squeeze the spinach in handfuls to remove the excess moisture.

Also, my brie was pretty soft… It wasn’t easy to slice and transfer it, but it certainly wasn’t impossible. Next time, I’ll probably freeze it for 20 minutes before I attempt to slice it.

Recipe link: Spinach and Brie Chicken with Tomato Orzo

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