The truth is, I’ve been wanting to tell you about this chicken roulade recipe for over a week now—ever since last Tuesday, when I pulled chicken out of the fridge and wondered what to make for dinner. I’d gone through all the usual options in my mind, things I’ve had before, things I’ve made, but nothing sounded like it would be worth the high price tag of the Amish, antibiotic-free poultry I’ve been buying, nothing until this beautiful, impressive chicken roulade.

sauteeing nuts and cranberries

Chicken roulade, if you’ve never heard of it, is essentially rolled chicken: the meat gets pounded and flattened into a large surface area; topped with cheese and a filling made of greens, onions, dried fruit, and nuts; rolled tightly; tied up with string; browned and baked. When it’s finished, you slice the bundled breasts into slices stuffed with flavor and color, and it’s the kind of thing that makes you go wow.

chicken roulade filling

This version comes from the lovely Angela of Spinach Tiger: she’d posted it as an idea for a spring picnic back in April; I’m posting it as a weeknight dinner in December. That’s what’s great about this dish: it’s versatile. Not only is it timely year-round, but it’s also adaptable to the ingredients you like and/or have on hand, whether type of greens, nuts, dried fruit, or cheese.

browning chicken bundles

As for why it’s taken me more than a week to post here, all I can say is I’m sorry. I could say I’ve been busy, but then so are you, and you’re reading this. I could say it’s the holidays, but truthfully my family’s Christmas is pretty low-key. So the best explanation I can give you is the same one I’m always giving, it seems: I didn’t know what to say.

chicken roulade unsliced

I keep wanting to tell you about how things are going around here, I mean beyond chicken roulade for dinner, but the words just don’t come. Do you ever feel like that? Like you’re full of stories but speechless? Sometimes you just have to wait it out. But sometimes, in blogging at least, when you’ve already posted the series of photos to Flickr and already typed up the adapted recipe and then still have nothing else beyond that, you just admit it.

chicken roulade sliced

So it’s like this: If we were on the phone today, you and me, or sitting across a table, or pounding some chicken breasts together while we worked on dinner, this is what I’d tell you: right now, even as we do this, there are a lot of things I’m trying not to think about, things like worry and doubt that I feel like I fight more often lately. And I’d say there are other things, things like these, which I’m repeating to myself over and over again. I’d say I’m, as always, overwhelmed by good gifts, don’t misunderstand, but hey, how about you talk for a while? And you could do me the favor of telling me about your day and what you’re doing for Christmas and how much you’ve whittled down on your shopping list. We could also make roasted carrots—baked for about an hour with coconut oil and drizzles of maple syrup—and maybe a salad loaded with vegetables.

chicken roulade and roasted carrots

And then, when we were done, I’d say, let’s eat.





Chicken Roulade
Adapted from Spinach Tiger
Serves about four.

Notes about this recipe: I really wish I had used Pecorino cheese like Angela did, but I was trying to work with what I had on hand, and that was mozzarella—I would def do the Pecorino next time. Also, although I used spinach, I think chard would give a sharper flavor contrast.

Ingredients:
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, flattened*
Olive oil for browning meat
Flour (I used white spelt)
1/2 large onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons nuts (Angela used pine nuts; I used slivered almonds)
2 teaspoons dried fruit (I used cranberries), soaked in water
1 bunch spinach (or chard), washed and chopped finely
2 teaspoons pecorino romano cheese, freshly grated
Sea salt, black pepper to taste

Directions:
*To flatten the chicken, put them in a big Ziplock bag and use a cast iron pan or something similar to flatten them as much as you can. Then, salt them and set aside so they come to room temperature.

Prepare the filling: Heat diced onion and oil in pan. Once onion is softened and almost golden, add the garlic and cook for about a minute, being careful not to burn. Add nuts to toast, stirring pan. Drain dried fruit, dice and add to pan. Add in stalks of greens and cook for a few minutes until softened. Add in leaves, continuing stirring pan, incorporating all ingredients. Turn heat off. Greens will continue to cook. Do not overcook. Allow to to come to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Assemble the chicken: Sprinkle cheese on flattened chicken breasts and then top with the prepared greens mixture. Roll up as tightly as you can (don’t stress about it like I did; it will all work out) and tie each with three strings of kitchen twice, one in middle and one at each end (or however you want to tie them to keep these babies closed).

Roll the tied chicken in flour. Pan fry until browned, turning to each side. Finish in hot 375-degree oven for 10 to 20 minutes.

Allow chicken to rest at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 22 Comments

  1. Lan

    shannalee, whatever you’re not saying, i totally hear you and i completely understand.

    and if we were at the same table here, sharing this meal, we would do so quietly, reflectively because sometimes, silence is golden and exactly what we need when words fail us.

  2. Jacqui

    Sometimes the words come so easily, other times, there is just nothing to say. What’s awesome about this post is that instead of forcing something out, like some kind of awkward, irrelevant small talk, you just invite us to pull up a chair for casual conversation and a delicious meal. And I really feel like I’m in your kitchen, chatting away while chopping and eating away. Even though you may be speechless, you still have the ability to craft a wonderful post! That is true talent, my dear.

  3. rachel

    OOo my daughter made stuffed chicken breats which looked similar in results.. just less fancy schmancy! how fun and yummmy looking! i find that pine nuts are divine!!!!!!

  4. Kim

    I know what you mean. I currently have no less than 5 blog posts in the queue…that haven’t been written. I have an idea jotted down, or photos that have been taken, but just haven’t actually found the time to sit down and write (and upload photos). Sometimes when you have so much to say, it’s hard to say anything at all.

    Tonight is the last night of Chanukkah, and I’ve promised myself to soon post photos from our Chanukkah decorations and fried-food attempts. Christmas still seems far away to me, though I am definitely getting in the spirit. It’s hard not to, what with all the twinkly lights and faux snow covered trees in store windows when I walk home at night.

  5. molly

    full of stories but speechless… oh, you nailed it.

    may you find yourself swimming with strength above water, soon. it all comes in waves, and just when it’s more than we can bear, and then a little more, there’s a break in the weather. it’ll come.

  6. Angela@spinachtiger

    Shannalee,
    As soon as I saw the roulade, I thought, “hey that looks similar to mine” and then it was. I am always exceedingly flattered when someone makes something from my blog, and this is really a great time of year for these flavors and for the “healthy” of it it.

    Yes, I too have been slow in posting. I totally understand what you are saying. Sometimes even a great writer can’t find her voice. Not that she doesn’t have a lot to say, sometimes something pulls us back. You and I have a higher calling due to our faith. Sometimes the loudest voice comes through the silence.

    My heartbreaking issue is that I have to change my blog over to wordpress but don’t know where to start. I need to hire someone and just spent all my money on San Francisco, but I’m saving again. I have no idea how much I will need to pay a consultant, but I am convinced once I change over, I can go places with my blog I really want to. Not just food, but so much to say. How about we pray partner. I can pray every day for you, would love to for your direction.

  7. Angela@spinachtiger

    It’s me again. I wanted to also encourage you. Your blog is one of my favorites, but I still get the feeling you are holding back a bit. I love it because there is a real flesh and blood person writing with vulnerability. That is your gift. So, always know that God goes before you, not after you. Nothing to worry about.

  8. Niki

    You know I find I am not the best at saying things, in writing. My posts tend to be just the recipes or maybe what was going on at the time, but there is always so much inside of me that I can’t get out on paper (blog). Sit me down and talk to me, and everything comes pouring out.
    I love your blog, not just b/c of the recipes, but b/c you can say what is on your mind for all of us to understand and it really makes us get you.
    It’s ok to be stuck every once in a while. It’s ok to not always be able to get it out. Maybe not getting it out will help you reflect more on what it is inside of you. You might need to just keep it in some to help yourself understand it or feel it the right way before you can get it out to help us understand and feel it the right way.

  9. Vicki

    Just remember that blogging is something you do for fun and things you do for fun should never feel like a chore. Of course this is coming from someone who has had an idea for a blog for awhile now but has never brought herself to actual start it. I’ve had a bad week of worrying too as I do every year around performance review time. It’s hard sometimes to focus on the positives and put the negatives into perspective. Just keep cooking and posting your fabulous photos whenever you have time. :)

  10. Shannalee

    Lan, That sounds perfect.

    Jacqui, Gosh, you’re nice. Thank you, friend.

    Rachel, You know, I agree about pine nuts! I’d like to try them next time!

    Anne, Ha! Just one weeknight. : ) There are lots of times I eat leftovers or toast or, no kidding, a grapefruit.

    Kim, : ) Looking forward to reading your coming posts!

    Molly, I love the hope in your words. Thank you!

    Angela, I know I already emailed you but once again: thank you! Thank you for posting this great recipe and thank you for your blog friendship. We really do need to meet one of these days in Nashville.

    Niki, When I read this “Maybe not getting it out will help you reflect more on what it is inside of you. You might need to just keep it in some to help yourself understand it or feel it the right way before you can get it out to help us understand and feel it the right way,” I was like YES. That is it. You so get it. And thank you for articulating what I couldn’t!

    Vicki, True, true. You still could start that blog, you know. It’s never too late!

    Antonietta, Thank you!

  11. Maddie

    These are beautiful pictures! And sometimes beautiful pictures are all you need to express yourself. The words will return; don’t pressure yourself into verbosity before it feels natural.

    As Depeche Mode says, enjoy the silence!

  12. Shannalee

    Niki, Isn’t that how it goes? I understand!

    Maddie, Aw, thanks!

    Julie, What’s so funny is RIGHT when you left this comment, I was showing Adam pics of Maddie on Facebook. : ) Miss you guys – hope you like this recipe!

    Adrianna, What a sweet comment. Thank you!

  13. retro sweets

    Amen to Isaiah Shan. I came across a verse today and it said ?”Do not let yourself be conquered by the evil, but keep conquering the evil with the good”. – Romans 12:21. Totally unrelated but nah.

    Uhm even without this tasty dish, I’d love to sit by your kitchen and listen to you blabber all day. :)

    I don’t mind if you post irregularly. Heck, writing is not an easy thing.

  14. Shannalee

    Jessica, I love your excitement over there. I hope you try this and have just as many wows when you eat it!

    Retro, Not unrelated at all–thank you for posting that. And thank you for your encouragement!

  15. Katy

    Shanna, This looks so good. I’m always looking for something different to do with chicken. Since I live in the middle of Amish country I was able to stock up on antiobiotic free chicken for $1.99/pound last week. I will definitely try this recipe soon.

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