Sunday, February 16, 2014

Tropical Chicken

"Tropical chicken. What is that? Really? You're stuffing chicken with bananas?"

I'm paraphrasing, but that's basically how the conversation started out when my son asked what I was making for dinner. I'm certain he isn't the only person that has those same feelings when hearing what this recipe entails.

When he tried it he had an insight that I thought was brilliant because I hadn't thought of it earlier: it's very similar to chicken cordon bleu - except that instead of being stuffed with ham and cheese, it's stuffed with prosciutto (a type of ham) and bananas. He REALLY liked it - and I think you will, too.

The first time I ever heard of this dish was when I was in Cancun. We went to a wonderful restaurant (La Habichuela) and sat in the beautiful open courtyard with flowers growing everywhere and opened a very eclectic menu.

One of the things that caught my eye was called
Chicken Breast Verónica at La Habichuela in Cancún 
"Chicken Breast Verónica".  This is the description from their menu: "Stuffed with banana and prosciutto in a sweet hawaiian sauce".  I decided to try it and was VERY glad I did.  Though I really didn't know what to expect, it tasted incredible. The bananas had such a creamy, sweet taste that it really complemented the savory taste and crispy texture on the outside of the chicken. Likewise, the "sweet hawaiian sauce" over the chicken and rice also complemented the chicken well.

Try as I might, I wasn't able to find this recipe (or one similar) anywhere so I decided to try it myself. I've basically made the chicken the same way every time but I've experimented quite a bit with the sauce.  I've made one that had more of a maraschino cherry base (too sweet) and one that was ONLY fruit based (also too sweet).  The one I finally settled on uses wine, chicken broth and fruit and, in my opinion, is sweet enough without being TOO sweet like the other versions.

I'd rather have you be the judge though.  Try it and see what you think.  I think you'll be glad you did.


For the chicken:
Start with a whole boneless, skinless chicken breast

  • 2 boneless skinless whole chicken breasts
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 small bananas, peeled and sliced
  • 4 slices prosciutto
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup flour for dredging chicken
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons milk (beat with the egg)
  • 1/2 cup panko (or other bread crumbs) for dredging chicken

For the sauce:
  • 8 oz can crushed pineapple 
  • 8 oz can pineapple chunks
  • 2 mangos, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 cups cooked rice (white, long grained or brown, whichever you prefer)
  • maraschino cherries for garnish

Preheat oven to 350


  1. Cut one of the chicken breasts almost in half and open it up like a book so you form a butterfly shape

  2. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the chicken and using a heavy skillet or mallet, pound to even out their thickness and make them thin

  3. Cut in half to make two pieces
    Before cutting in half to make two pieces
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 for the second breast. You should end up with four pieces of thinly pounded chicken
  5. Lightly salt and pepper each chicken breast (feel free to use other spices/herb if you like. I used some freshly ground rosemary and garlic powder in addition to salt and pepper)

  6. Take a slice of prosciutto and stack banana slices inside and carefully roll up

  7. Place the prosciutto/banana on the pounded piece of chicken and carefully roll up, enclosing the prosciutto/banana

  8. Wrap each stuffed chicken piece in plastic and refrigerate for an hour or more

  9. Put the mango, orange juice and the crushed pineapple in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let cook for 15 minutes

  10. Puree the mango, pineapple and orange juice mixture using a food processor, blender or immersion blender and set aside 
  11. Set up three pans; one with flour, one with the beaten egg and milk mixture and one with the panko or bread crumbs

  12. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and dredge each piece through the flour, then the egg/milk mixture and finally in the panko/bread crumbs

  13. Heat the butter and olive oil in a skillet over medium heat
  14. Brown the chicken on all sides being careful while turning it not to let the bananas come out of the ends

  15. Place the chicken in an oven safe dish and place in the preheated oven (at 350)

  16. Bake for twenty minutes or until the chicken is just cooked through
  17. While the chicken is baking, put the onions in the skillet where you cooked the chicken
  18. Sauté the onions until they are getting soft
  19. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for two minutes
  20. Add the wine and reduce by half

  21. Add the chicken broth and the mango/pineapple/juice mixture to the pan along with the can of pineapple chunks and bring to a boil

  22. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for ten minutes
  23. Remove the chicken from the oven
  24. Mound some cooked rice in the middle of each plate and top each with a piece of chicken
  25. Spoon the sauce generously over the chicken and rice
  26. Top with a maraschino cherry for a garnish!

If you prefer your sauce a bit sweeter, feel free to add honey or brown sugar during the cooking stage (step 21)

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