Pan-Seared Chicken with Leeks, Artichokes and Sauerkraut

4Boneless chicken breasts (or 8 bone-in chicken thighs)
1 8-ounce jarMarinated artichoke hearts
16 ouncesSonoma Brinery Raw Sauerkraut
1 8-ounce packageCream cheese, room temperature
1 bunchChives, chopped
2 clovesGarlic, finely minced
3 tablespoonsOlive oil
2 tablespoonsButter
½ cupClear chicken stock
2 ouncesShredded good quality Swiss cheese
½ cupKosher salt for brining
To tasteSalt and pepper


Equipment needed:
2-quart plastic container or bowl
Medium skillet
4 individual baking dishes or one larger baking dish
1 medium mixing bowl
Aluminum foil

Pre-heat oven to 325� F.

Prepare a brine for the chicken by filling a 2-quart plastic container with cold water and adding � cup of kosher salt, stirring to dissolve the salt. Rinse chicken in cold water and place in the brine for 30 minutes or up to 1 � hours in the refrigerator.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, garlic and chives and stir until all the ingredients are combined and the cream cheese is soft. Set aside.

Cut leeks lengthwise and carefully wash to remove any dirt or grit from the leaves. Cut leeks crosswise in � inch pieces. Heat a medium skillet over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons the oil and the butter to the skillet. Heat until the butter has melted and reduce heat to medium. Add the leeks and saut� until the leeks are just translucent.

Add the chicken stock to the leeks and simmer until the stock has reduced by half and the leeks are tender. Remove from skillet and place leeks in mixing bowl with the cream cheese mixture.

Open the sauerkraut and the artichoke hearts and drain each. Chop coarsely. Add the sauerkraut and the artichoke hearts to the cream cheese mixture. Stir the cream cheese mixture until the leeks, sauerkraut and artichoke are just coated with the cream cheese and are evenly incorporated into the mixture. Do not over mix. Taste mixture and correct seasoning with salt and pepper.

Remove chicken from brine and pat each piece dry. Heat the skillet over high heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, heating until just beginning to smoke. One at a time, place pieces of chicken in the skillet. When chicken has turned a light color of brown, turn and brown the other side. When fully browned, remove chicken from the skillet and place on a plate.

If using a single baking dish, divide the cream cheese mixture into 4 equal portions and place each portion in a baking dish. Form a �pillow� of the cream cheese mixture. (If using one large baking dish, form a �pillow� for each serving.)

Place one chicken breast (or two thighs) skin-side up on the cream cheese �pillow.� Sprinkle the shredded Swiss cheese evenly over the chicken.

Cover each baking dish or the one large one with aluminum foil. At this point, the dishes can be refrigerated for up to a week.

Place baking dishes on a cookie sheet and place in pre-heated 325� F oven for 35 minutes, or until the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 160� and the cheese mixture is bubbling. Remove from the oven, remove foil covers and serve hot.

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