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Stuffed chicken breasts are boneless cuts of chicken taken from the breast which are stuffed with different ingredients before cooking. The chicken breast is sliced into, often at the thickest part, with a knife, and then filled with something before baking. Generally, stuffed chicken breasts will be filled with cheese or with garlic and herb butter, but many different recipes are available. Theoretically, anything can be inserted into a chicken breast and cooked, and the dish would still come under the same definition. Often, as well as being stuffed with an ingredient, the chicken breast is also wrapped in something like bacon or Parma ham.
The process of stuffing a chicken breast is usually completed prior to the breast being cooked. This means that the stuffing of the chicken is actually part of the preparation of the chicken. Ordinarily, the chicken breast will be sliced open horizontally at the thickest part to create a cavity for the filling to be stuffed into. Boneless chicken breasts are the preferred cut for this purpose because they are often quite thick and can be cut into easily. The cut should only create an opening in one side of the breast, not through the entire thing.
Several different ingredients can be used as a filling for stuffed chicken breasts. Some of the most common are cheese, garlic and herbs, and chorizo. Because the flavor of chicken breasts is generally quite subtle, stuffing chicken breasts with other ingredients is a common way of cooking them. Most stuffed chicken recipes will include some type of cheese, and sometimes the chicken is further flavored with barbecue sauce.
After the filling has been chosen and prepared and the chicken breast has been cut open, the filling is inserted into the breast. This is generally done by hand and is often fairly messy. The filling is literally stuffed into the chicken, with the intention of filling it up as much as possible. If the cavity is cut well, the chef will be able to stuff a lot of filling into the middle and pull the chicken back together at the cavity. This is the ideal situation when preparing stuffed chicken breasts.
To ensure that the filling stays inside the chicken, stuffed chicken breasts are also commonly wrapped in something prior to being cooked. A common choice for this wrapping is bacon or a cured ham. The strips of bacon or ham are wrapped around the stuffed chicken breasts, with the main aim to cover up the slit used to insert the stuffing. The stuffed chicken breasts are then oven-baked until cooked through.