Recipe: Chicken breasts with poblano chiles

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Total time: 2 hours, 10 minutes, plus soaking time for the beans

Servings: 4

Note: Adapted from "A Great American Cook" by Jonathan Waxman. You can ask the butcher to bone chicken breasts with the first wing joint still attached and frenched (also called an airline cut).

1/4 cup each dried black, kidney, navy and cannellini beans

1 head of garlic

4 fresh cilantro sprigs

1 ham bone or ham hock

1 bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, 4 parsley stems, a slice of fresh ginger and 4 black peppercorns tied in cheesecloth)

2 poblano chiles

3 ounces soft fresh goat cheese

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 fresh tarragon sprigs

1 small bunch fresh chives

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

4 large chicken breasts (6 to 8 ounces each), skin on and either bone-in or boned with just the wing joint attached

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

1 shallot

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

4 to 5 cups loosely packed torn mixed lettuces (such as frisée, red oak, Bibb and arugula)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1. Pick over the beans and remove any stones or debris. Put them in a medium bowl, cover with water, and soak for at least 8 hours or overnight.

2. Separate the garlic cloves and peel them. Remove the leaves from the cilantro sprigs, reserving the stems; cover and refrigerate the leaves. Drain the beans, put them in a large saucepan, and add 2 quarts cold water, the ham bone or hock, garlic, bouquet garni, and cilantro stems. Bring to a simmer and cook, skimming any foam, until tender, about 2 hours. Drain the beans and let cool.

3. Meanwhile, roast the poblanos over medium-high heat on the stove top or under a hot broiler , turning occasionally until they are blackened and blistered all over, about 5 minutes. Place them in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let them steam for 15 minutes. Peel the peppers with your fingers and stem and seed them. Finely dice them and set aside.

4. Crumble the goat cheese into a medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and half of the diced poblanos and mix well. Remove the leaves from the tarragon sprigs and chop the tarragon, chives and the reserved cilantro leaves. Add the tarragon, chives and cilantro to the cheese mixture and mix again thoroughly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Lift the skin of one chicken breast and gently pull it back toward the wing end. Cut a half-inch-deep, 3-inch-long slit in the middle of the breast. Open this slit gently into a pocket and season the breast with one-fourth teaspoon salt and one-eighth teaspoon pepper. Spoon one-fourth of the goat cheese mixture into the pocket; it will overflow, but the skin will hold the mixture against the flesh. Pull the skin back over the stuffing. Repeat until all the breasts are stuffed. (The chicken breasts can be stuffed up to 1 day ahead, covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.)

6. Place the cooled beans in a bowl and lightly toss them with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the white wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.

7. Heat the broiler to low if possible or place the rack 4 to 6 inches from the heat. Place the chicken breasts skin side up on the broiler pan. Drizzle them with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season each with a pinch of salt and pepper. Broil them until the skin is crisp and the chicken is cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes; an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a breast should register 165 degrees. Check the chicken every few minutes to make sure that the skin does not burn. If it colors too quickly, tent the chicken loosely with foil to make sure that the skin does not burn. Transfer to a platter and cover to keep warm.

8. Mince the shallot. Add the shallot and any juices from the chicken to the bowl with the beans. Add the remaining diced poblanos, the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and the sherry vinegar and toss well. Place the lettuces in a large bowl, add the bean mixture and toss well. Transfer the salad to a large platter.

9. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a small skillet and cook until golden. Stir in the lemon juice and a pinch each of salt and pepper, or to taste. Arrange the warm chicken breasts on top of the salad, drizzle the butter mixture over each chicken breast and serve.

Each serving: 762 calories; 51 grams protein; 36 grams carbohydrates; 13 grams fiber; 46 grams fat; 16 grams saturated fat; 137 mg. cholesterol; 468 mg. sodium.

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