Chicken is naturally lean and a perfect blank canvas for whatever flavor you want to add. Poached Sun-Dried Chicken Roulades involves a couple of techniques to ramp up a plain (boring) chicken breast into a fancy dish perfect for date night or company.
This chicken isn’t dry, stringy, or bland, rather it is moist and infused with rich flavors full of umami. Better yet, you can prep the chicken earlier in the day or even the night before and simply poach it just before dinnertime making it a great dish for a special occasion. But it is so easy and inexpensive to make.
What is a Roulade
Roulade (pronounced rooˈ läd) is a French word meaning “to roll”. In culinary terms, it is a dish of filled meat or pastry rolled and then sliced to form a pinwheel effect. A roulade can be savory when using meat or when using pastry it is sweet.
Today’s chicken breast can drastically vary in size and weight. Often a single trimmed half breast can weigh 10-12 ounces and be more than a 1-1/2” in height at the tallest point and tapering down to less than a 1/2” at the other end. No wonder a chicken breast can be stringy and over-cooked. There is a simple solution to this common problem and that is to slice the chicken breast into two more evenly thick pieces.
To do this place the chicken breast on a cutting board and with a sharp knife start at the thickest end and holding your knife parallel to the cutting board gently slice through the breast cutting the top part off of the bottom part of the breast. This will give you two pieces of chicken that are close in thickness and will cook more evenly.
Since a roulade needs chicken about 3/8” thick you will need to gently pound out each piece to that even thickness. Place your piece of chicken breast between two pieces of waxed paper, parchment, plastic wrap, or in a zip-close gallon size bag.
Start at the center and working out to the edges, pound the chicken lightly with the flat side of a meat mallet (or rolling pin) until the chicken is of even thickness of about 3/8”. Be careful not to go to town when pounding and tear through the meat. If you use a zip-close bag you can remove one piece of chicken and reuse the same bag pounding out the next piece.
After the chicken is roughly 3/8” thick, liberally season with salt and pepper and place 1 tablespoon of diced sun-dried tomatoes (that were packed in oil), 1-2 cloves roasted garlic and 3-4 basil leaves per chicken breast. Being careful not to add so much stuff that you can’t roll the breast up well.
Layout a piece of parchment and carefully roll the chicken around the filling, tucking in any stray bits. Transfer the chicken to one short end of the parchment and bring the end of the parchment up over the chicken bundle. Fold in the two sides like you would wrap a burrito and then roll the parchment over and over to enclose. Repeat the process with a piece of aluminum foil. This double wrapping helps keep the roulade shape and insulates the chicken bundle during poaching to retain all the yummy juices.
Repeat this process with each piece of chicken. Plan on one chicken bundle per person. You can do wrap the chicken bundles up to 24 hours before you plan on poaching. Just store the wrapped bundles in the refrigerator. I usually try to prep the chicken at least an hour before cooking since it helps the chicken roulade keep its shape.
How to Poach Chicken
Since this chicken is wrapped in parchment and then in foil, it is not necessary to add more than salt to the poaching water. If you were to poach a plain chicken breast you would want to add herbs (like parsley, thyme and bay leaf), onion, celery and carrot to the water in addition to salt and whole peppercorns since all that goodness would be infused into the gently cooked chicken.
Since this dish already has deep flavors from the sun-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic, and fresh basil, the object of the poaching is to gently cook the chicken in a method to create a moist protein wrapped around those wonderful ingredients.
When you poach you want the liquid to come to just barely a simmer which is when tiny bubbles form around the edge of the pan, but there are no bubbles forming in the center. Heat the water in a wide shallow pan since you want the chicken bundles to all be immersed in the water and not stacked on top of one another. Once the water has come to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain the simmer (the water should register between 170°F-180°F).
Cook the chicken bundles for about 15-18 minutes. You may want to rotate the bundles partway through cooking so all the sides are done. Remove the bundles from the heat and let rest for 10 minutes before unwrapping and slicing. This lets the juices in the chicken redistribute into the meat.Print
Elegant but so easy and full of flavor. Great for a date night meal or one to impress. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic, and fresh basil are poached and then sliced to reveal a wonderful pinwheel of flavor.
- 2 half boneless skinless chicken breasts, (each cut in half widthwise and pound to a thickness of 3/8” to make a total of 4 portions)
- 4 tablespoons julienned sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped into small pieces
- 8 cloves roasted garlic, chopped into small pieces
- 12 basil leaves, sliced into small ribbons
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 2 cups cooked couscous
- 2 cups mixed salad greens (about 5 ounces)
- 1/4 cup Fresh Basil Viniagrette
- Trim each chicken breast and slice into 2 pieces about 1/2” thick.
- With the flat side of a meat mallet (or rolling pin) gently pound each piece of chicken to a thickness of 3/8”.
- Liberally salt and pepper each piece of chicken. Top each piece of chicken with 1 tablespoon of diced sun-dried tomatoes, 1-2 cloves diced roasted garlic and 3-4 basil leaves cut into chiffonade. Be careful not to add so much stuff that you can’t roll the breast up tightly.
- Roll the chicken up to enclose the filling, tucking in any stray bits.
- Transfer the chicken to one short end of the parchment and bring the end of the parchment up over the chicken bundle. Fold in the two sides like you would wrap a burrito and then roll the parchment over and over to enclose.
- Repeat the process with a piece of aluminum foil.
- Proceed to season, top, roll and wrap the remaining pieces of chicken.
- Place each chicken bundle in the refrigerator for 60 minutes to firm the shape.
- To poach the chicken, place each chicken bundle in a shallow saute pan and fill the pan half way with water. The pan should be just big enough to fit each chicken breast in a single layer. Fill the pan half way with lukewarm water and season the water with 2 teaspoons kosher salt.
- Turn on the heat to medium-high until the water just comes to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the chicken bundles for 15-18 minutes, maintaining a gentle simmer. (You may want to rotate the bundles partway through cooking to ensure all the sides are done.)
- Remove the bundles from the heat and let rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile prepare the couscous. Arrange the cooked couscous on a serving platter and set aside.
- Carefully unwrap each chicken bundle making sure you retain the juices. Slice each roulade into 3/4” pinwheels and artfully arrange on the bed of couscous so the spiral filling is displayed. Drizzle the cooking juices over the chicken roulade. Repeat with the remaining chicken bundles.
- Top with the crumbled feta cheese.
- Serve with salad greens topped with Fresh Basil Vinaigrette.
You can substitute crumbled goat cheese for the feta cheese.
Try plateing this meal before you bring it to the table for even more of a wow factor.
- Serving Size: 1 chicken roulade
Keywords: poached, poultry, roulade