If you want to add a "wow" factor to boneless, skinless chicken breasts, turn them into culinary canvases and style them in any flavor fashion you wish by making pinwheels. Based on the French roulade, pinwheels are flattened chicken breasts rolled around a filling and baked to golden-brown goodness, then sliced crosswise to resemble spirals, not unlike the cakes that share the same name. Pinwheels are more than a pretty presentation, too. They let you combine sauce, cheese and other toppings in a compact, easy-to-assemble package. They're also a great way to sneak veggies into a child's lunch on the down low.
Things You'll Need
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 8 ounces each
- Kitchen knife
- Cutting board
- Plastic food film
- Meat mallet
- Kitchen twine
- Rimmed baking sheet or shallow dish
- Meat thermometer
Trim any loose, hanging fat from the chicken breasts using a kitchen knife and coat them on both sides with a thin layer of oil. The oil helps prevent the chicken from tearing when you flatten it.
Cover a cutting board with a layer of plastic food film and place one boneless, skinless chicken breast on it. Wrap the cutting board again with a piece of plastic food film, this time covering the chicken breast with it. The film prevents chicken juice from splattering and cross-contaminating the kitchen.
Pound the chicken to 1/4 inch thick using glancing blows with the flat side of a meat mallet. Hit the chicken using an angled swing so the surface of the mallet slides across the chicken, not down onto it, which tears the meat. Use light blows with the mallet. It might take longer, but you'll have a more uniformly flattened breast free of tears if you do. Repeat with the other chicken breasts.
Place the flattened chicken breasts on a plate and remove the food film from the cutting board. Place one breast on the work surface.
Layer a filling on the chicken breasts, keeping it about 1/4 from the edges. The types of fillings you can use with pinwheels don't have many limits other than your personal tastes. However, if you use a meat filling, such as ground beef or pork, cook it all the way through first. You can go with a classic filling, such as ham and cheese, a Southwestern interpretation, such as chilis, ground beef and onions, or an Italian influence, such as marinara sauce, sliced mozzarella and fresh basil leaves. Don't overfill the chicken; a layer of filling about 1/4 inch thick is sufficient.
Tightly roll the chicken breast lengthwise and tie a piece of kitchen twine around it to secure it. Repeat with the other breasts and heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Coat the pinwheels all over with a layer of oil. Place the pinwheels on a rimmed baking sheet or in a shallow dish seam-side down, spacing them about 1 inch apart from each other. Place the pinwheels in the oven.
Bake the pinwheels for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown with an internal temperature of 165 F. To check the temperature of a pinwheel, first remove the pan from the oven. Insert a meat thermometer in the center of the pinwheel horizontally and wait about 10 seconds to see how far the needle rises.
Remove the pinwheels from the oven then they reach 165 F. Let the pinwheels rest in the dish or pan for about five minutes.
Place the pinwheels on a cutting board and cut and remove the twine from them. Cut the pinwheels crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices using a sharp kitchen knife and serve.
- The Food Lover's Companion 3rd Edition; Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst
- Photo Credit John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images