asparagus stuffed chicken with five spice sauce

There’s a restaurant in Hoboken, NJ that’s on the top of our “go-to” list.  Zack’s Oak Bar & Restaurant.  We’ve been there many times over the years since our son and daughter-in-law have made Hoboken their home.  One of Zack’s house favorites is their Stuffed Chicken …happens to be my husband’s favorite, too.  This is my attempt to duplicate their delicious entree so we can enjoy it at home.  It may not be exact but it’s so good that I’d like to share it with you.

Let’s start off with the five spice sauce.  Depending on your preference, you can use a jalapeño or serrano pepper.  The serrano pepper definitely holds more heat.  If you really like it spicy …add a few of the pepper seeds to your blend.  Also, keep in mind that this sauce can easily be made for gluten-free folks with just a single substitution.

There’s a bit of prep involved but really …it’s just some rough chopping.  It all comes together in your blender or food processor.

You won’t use all of the sauce in this recipe but the remainder can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.  It is delicious when used as a marinade and/or a glaze for grilled chicken or fish.

Let’s move on to the main event…

It is important to choose chicken breasts that are on the thick side since you’ll be cutting into the thickness of each breast in order to create a pocket to hold the asparagus, cheese & peppers.  I always use organic chicken, which I personally believe is not only a healthier choice but the texture and flavor are far superior.  The breasts featured here are from Whole Foods but most local markets now carry organic poultry products.

The prepared chicken breasts are dredged in flour and seasoned before they are placed in the hot ovenproof skillet.  The flour aids in the browning process, giving the meat a somewhat crunchy exterior.  It also will slightly thicken the sauce as it simmers in the oven.

Once the chicken breasts are browned on both sides, the five spice sauce (combined with chicken broth) is poured over the breasts.  The skillet is covered and the whole thing is finished up in a hot oven to complete the process.

This is typically served with a side of mashed potatoes.  Or better yet … on top of a mound of mashed potatoes.  It would also be delicious served with rice or your favorite prepared grain.  If you are enjoying this chicken with mashed potatoes, it would be advisable to double the amount of five spice sauce and chicken broth.  You want to make sure you have plenty of yummy sauce for those potatoes!

asparagus stuffed chicken with five spice sauce

Inspired by Zack's Oak Bar & Restaurant with some help from I Wash You Dry

Roasted chicken breast stuffed with asparagus, provolone & roasted peppers simmered in a flavorful five spice sauce.  Serve with mashed potatoes or your favorite grain.

Servings 3 to 4 servings

Ingredients

Five Spice Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)
  • 3 tablespoons any neutral vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 2 shallots, peeled & roughly chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled & chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled & chopped
  • 2 tablespoons five spice powder
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded & chopped (or serrano pepper, for more heat)
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground anise seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Asparagus Stuffed Chicken

  • 3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 8 ounces each)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 ounces sliced provolone cheese
  • 12 asparagus stalks of medium thickness, trimmed
  • 1/3 cup roasted pepper, cut into strips
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (or gluten-free all-purpose flour)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup Five Spice Sauce

Instructions

Five Spice Sauce

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender or bowl of a food processor.  Blend until smooth and creamy.  Transfer to a lidded jar and store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

  2. Note:  Ideal for use as a marinade or glaze for grilled chicken or fish.

Asparagus Stuffed Chicken

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.

  2. Cut each chicken breast in half, length-wise, without cutting all the way.  Leave it intact on one side by creating a pocket to hold the stuffed ingredients.  It will resemble an opened book. 

  3. Season the inside of each breast with salt and pepper and a pinch of lemon zest. Lay the provolone cheese and 4 stalks of asparagus in the center of each breast. Top it off with several strips of roasted red pepper.  Fold over the top half to enclose the filling.

  4. Place the flour in a shallow dish.  Carefully dredge each prepared chicken breast in the flour to coat both sides.  Season both sides with salt, pepper, garlic powder & paprika.

  5. Heat a large, oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the olive oil, swirling it around to coat the bottom of the skillet.  Cook the chicken top side down, for 3 to 5 minutes, until the chicken easily releases from the pan and is golden brown on top.  Carefully turn the chicken over and cook an additional 3 to 5 minutes to sear the bottom side.

  6. Combine the chicken broth with the five spice sauce and stir until well blended.  If you prefer, the broth and sauce can be doubled at this point.  Pour the blended sauce over the browned breasts.

  7. Place an ovenproof lid on the skillet (or carefully cover the skillet with tinfoil) and place it in the preheated oven.  Bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 155°.

  8. Very carefully remove the skillet from the oven and let it sit, covered, for about 5 minutes. The temperature of the chicken will rise to 160°.  

  9. Cut each breast into about 4 diagonal slices.  Serve with mashed potatoes or rice, with extra sauce spooned on top.

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