The first Valentine’s Day that Handsome Greg and I spent together came just two weeks after we met. In that lovely fortnight, we shared lingering dinners, stories of our respective pasts, several bottles of wine, and a mutual love of Ralph Wiggum. We quoted sweet, hapless Ralph to each other in nearly every situation, appropriate or not (“Sleep? Yippee! That’s where I’m a Viking!”).
Valentine’s Day that year crept up way too early in our budding relationship. How do you celebrate the big V after only two weeks of dating? Greg paced the greeting card aisle on date night, bombarded with vows of everlasting love, and jokes about sex and chocolate. Not a single card was suitable for a promising romance in its infancy, and he left the gift shop empty-handed.
Hours later, I opened his card, and my heart filled with laughter and other cured meats. He’d made a card himself, with a picture of Ralph Wiggum in front of a train, and the words, “I choo, choo, choose you.” That was eleven years ago.
Between our anniversary, Greg’s birthday (also this week), and Valentine’s Day just around the corner, this time of year is a Greg-and-Suzy Love Fest. So on Saturday, I’m making one of his favorite dishes: chicken stuffed with mozzarella and pepperoni, baked in marinara. The pepperoni, sauce, and cheese keep the boneless, skinless chicken breasts nice and juicy. I originally made this same dish with salami, and I found it a bit too oily. So I replaced the salami with turkey pepperoni and, as predicted, the spicy pepperoni charmed the pants off of the chicken. The pepperoni and the chicken subsequently, um, got a room.
Continue reading for the Pepperoni-Stuffed Chicken recipe
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 4 ounces each
- 4 slices (about 4 ounces) mozzarella cheese
- 8 slices turkey pepperoni
- Garlic powder
- Dried oregano
- ½ cup marinara
- 2 tablespoons shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray.
- To butterfly the chicken, lay one chicken breast on your cutting surface with the tip closest to you. Place your hand flat on top of it and, using a sweeping motion, slice into the center of the thickest part of the breast. Carefully and slowly, work your way through, cutting it just shy of completely in half. Open up the chicken breast like a book. Repeat with the other piece of chicken.
- Season both sides of the chicken with salt. Top one side of each breast with two slices of mozzarella, 4 slices of pepperoni, and a sprinkle of garlic powder and oregano. Fold the other side over to enclose the filling inside the chicken, and secure with toothpicks.
- Place the stuffed chicken in the prepared baking dish and top them with marinara. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
- Sprinkle each chicken breast with a tablespoon of mozzarella cheese, return to the oven, and bake for another 5 minutes.