Chicken with Parmesan, Basil and Melting Berries

Monday 10 June 2013

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I love Strawberry Season.  Whilst the berries we have growing in our garden are not quite ripe yet, fresh English berries are showing up in all of the shops at the moment and we are enjoying them any way that we can.
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I try to only eat fruit when it is in season and from the UK, unless it's something tropical like bananas, pineapple and mangoes.   I refuse to pay a fortune for berries in the winter when they are sub standard and lacking in flavour.  I don't want to eat berries that have taken weeks to get to my table.

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During berry season though, I try to eat my fill of them and use them in whatever way that I can.  This recipe here today has to be one of my more unusual ways of using them.   Mild flavoured chicken breasts serve as the perfect canvas for some beautiful flavour combinations.

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Chicken breasts are stuffed with salty Parmesan cheese, which has been wrapped in peppery basil leaves.  Then they are sauteed lightly until golden brown in some garlic oil and then finished off in the oven until they are cooked perfectly through, but still moist.

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Sweet berries are baked in a dish along side of them . . . their sweetness balanced by some strawberry preserves and rich balsamic vinegar . . . 

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The end result is deliciously moist chicken filled with melted parmesan and peppery basil, with a sauce of sweet/tart melted berries and a garnish of more peppery basil.  
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Unusual yes . . . but it all works together perfectly and deliciously.   I do hope you will give them a try. I think you just may be surprised and fall in love too!

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*Chicken with Parmesan, Basil and Melting Berries*
Serves 6
Printable Recipe

This may sound like a bit of a strange combination but trust me when I say it works wonderfully and is quite delicious!
For the melting berries:
1 large punnet of fresh strawberries (about 3 cups) hulled and halved
2 heaped dessertspoons of strawberry preserves
2 TBS good quality balsamic vinegar
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

For the chicken:
6 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
(Rinse and wipe, then dry with some kitchen toweling)
3 ounces Parmesan Reggiano Cheese
12 fresh basil leaves, large
1 TBS olive oil
2 tsp of garlic paste
Basil leaves cut in a chiffonade to garnish
(Roll up tightly like a cigar and cut into thin slices)

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Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6. 
Place the halved berries into a large shallow glass casserole dish.  Whisk the preserves and vinegar together.   Pour over the berries.  Season to taste with some salt and pepper.
Take your chicken breasts and using a sharp knife, cut a pocket into the thickest part.  Cut the Parmesan cheese into six equal sized sticks, each about 3 inches in length and 1/2 inch thick.  Wrap the sticks in two basil leaves and insert one wrapped piece into each pocket of the chicken breasts.  Secure shut with wooden picks.

Heat the oil in a skillet with an oven proof handle which is large enough to hold all six breasts, over medium heat.   Cook the garlic paste in the pan for a few seconds until fragrant.  Season the breasts with salt and pepper and place them presentation side down in to the hot pan.  Saute until they are golden brown on both sides, turning once and cooking them for about 5 minutes.  Pop them into the oven and cook for five minutes.   Put the dish with the berries into the oven and cook both the berries and the chicken for a further 12 to 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the berries have softened nicely.   Remove from the oven.  Remove and discard the wooden picks.  Place the breasts onto a large serving platter.  Spoon the melting berries over top and scatter with the chiffonade basil leaves.  Serve immediately.


  1. Wow!! Not only does it sound unusually delicious, it's so pretty too! I was a little concerned about the sweetness of the berries, but you had me hooked with the balsamic :) I hope The Geologist is brave enough to try this, because I can't wait to!!

  2. Boy does that look incredible - very unique!

  3. This certainly is an interesting sounding dish. Admittedly our berries can be oh so tart. It looks pretty too.

  4. OMG!!! Is this how people eat in England! My mouth is salivating. Here in the US people overly sweeten strawberries, in my opinion. They taste much better when the natural tang is allowed to emerge. Of course, no one here knows what ripe strawberries look like any more. The strawberries in the grocery store are at least 1/3 white stuff, ugh. I am new to this blog, and what a start off.

  5. Not sure how many other people eat like this in England Arinna, but I know it's how I roll!! Perhaps it is the North American in my coming out! I would never buy a basket of berries that were half white! That is so bad! You need to find a good YOU pick place and pick your own!

    Thank you Suze! I wasn't sure about the flavours when I started, but they turned out fabulously!

    It is quite unique Bernideen, for sure, and oh so scrummy!

    April, tell the Geologist to suck it up and be a man! lol just kidding. Just flutter your eye lashes at him and ask him if he wants to make you happy. Love ya!

    ☺ Thanks everyone!

  6. What an unusual but fab recipe. I have never used strawberries in a savoury dish but will definitely be trying this. Thanks!


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