Everyone loves chicken and the love for it goes a notch higher when you’re digging into a bowl of chicken chesapeake. Chicken chesapeake recipe has been around for a very long while now but it’s okay if you’re just getting to know of it.
The recipe with two main ingredients, chicken breasts and crab meat, with spices and then baked gives the irresistible dish – except you’re a vegetarian. It is simple to make and if made the fast way can take about 30 minutes or a few minutes more to get ready.
Seafood stuffed chicken chesapeake is always a double meat treat. There’s already the delicious mouth-watering chicken and within it, is a seafood like shrimp, or crab. This chesapeake will be worth making after a long day when all you need is a delightful quick fix.
Any Difference Between Crab Imperial And Imperial Sauce?
Chicken chesapeake is actually a boneless (and skinless too) piece of chicken breast stuffed with crab filling. The crab filling is often referred to as imperial sauce, crab imperial or chesapeake sauce.
So what’s the right term?
Imperial sauce is a sauce made basically from egg, mayonnaise, spices, and seasoning, almost always the old bay seasoning. This imperial sauce becomes crab imperial when crab meat is introduced into the imperial sauce mix and then baked to a golden brown color.
To make a crab imperial, you can use any cut from the crab. Jumbo lump, lump and backfin crab meats are the best types of crabmeats to use. Others include claw and imitation crab meat. Getting good quality crabmeat doesn’t just affect the crab imperial, it also affects the chicken chesapeake.
For chicken chesapeake, both the imperial crab and the imperial sauce can be used. That means that you can either bake your imperial sauce with crab first (see recipe below) or you can bake it along with your chicken breast.
How To Make Chicken Chesapeake
Making this baked dish is definitely not complex, as a matter of fact it is extremely easy to make and doesn’t take so much time to get ready. There are quite a number number of variations existing for the dish, spices used might vary but will definitely have two or so in common and in general, there are a lot of optional ingredients.
For example, cheese wasn’t considered an ingredient but eventually, it now is. Some persons make this chicken stuffed with crab with cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, cream cheese etc.
However, I’ve tried to narrow the ingredients down to a “traditional” ingredients and yes, that includes old bay seasoning. Without old bay seasoning, I wouldn’t refer to the easy chicken chesapeake recipe below as chicken chesapeake. The recipe instead of using the imperial sauce as your direct filling, uses the crab imperial for the stuffed chicken breast.
To make the crab imperial, you’ll need:
- 1 pound of Crab meat
- 2 tbsp Old Bay Seasoning, or to taste
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp sour cream (optional)
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice (optional)
- 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
- Cayenne pepper
- 1 egg, beaten
- 8 whole Saltine crackers, crushed
- ½ tsp paprika
For the chicken:
- 5 to 6 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Salt and cayenne pepper
- 2 tsp old bay seasoning
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Starting off with crab imperial, ensure the crab meat is free off shells, and cartridges. Then wash with clean water.
- In a bowl, mix all the ingredients and for the crab imperial save for the salt, pepper and the crab meat.
- Next, add in the crab meat, pepper and a little salt. Mix properly.
- Grease a baking dish or you can use a non-stick cooking spray for this. After greasing, pour in the crab imperial mixture and allow to bake for about 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes.
- Now onto the chicken breasts , tenderize and make thickness uniform by pounding the ziploc enclosed chicken with a meat hammer’s flat end.
- Then take the chicken breasts out and butterfly it open by creating a pocket-like incision at the center of each.
- Season the chicken breasts with salt, old bay seasoning and pepper. Next, grease a baking dish and set aside.
- Then, stuff 2 tablespoons of crab imperial into each pocket you’ve made and keep in the baking dish.
- Having done that for all, use toothpicks to act as binding tool. And allow to bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Use a meat thermometer to check if it’s done, if at the very core, the chicken breast registers at 165F, then your chicken chesapeake is ready to go.
- But first, let it cool for 10 minutes, then serve with French fries, rice or salad. Garnish with lemon wedges.
Tips On Making the Best Chicken Chesapeake
As already mentioned, the recipe for this dish vary from one person to another. The difference is just not in the ingredient list, it also comes down to the method of making. Generally, the constants are crab meat, chicken breasts, crab imperial or imperial sauce as filling, spices and seafood seasoning (preferably, old bay seasoning).
To some persons, old bay seasoning is just as important as the crab meat and chicken breasts. They’ll consider the recipe incomplete without it and you can’t actually blame them for it – the seasoning is awesome.
Note #1: The crab imperial must not necessarily be baked first before it is used as stuffing as shown in the recipe above. The chicken chesapeake sauce being imperial sauce can be stuffed into the chicken breasts and subsequently, baked together with it. This saves you times since the total baking time is about 25 to 30 minutes. So yeah, you can go with this by skipping steps 5 and 6 in the recipe above.
Note #2: You can make the chicken breasts more flavorful. The simplest way to do this is to marinate the chicken in a mixture of white wine and extra virgin olive oil EVOO. Keep in the refrigerator until you’re done making the crab imperial. Or you can pour melted butter over your stuffed breasts.
Note #3: Breadcrumbs or crushed saltine crackers can work as coating. Also, you can let the chicken breasts cook in a skillet with melted butter before transferring to the oven for just 10 minutes. Instead of a skillet, you can grill it before baking for 5 or 10 minutes.
Note #4: On the type of meats to use! Use jumbo lump or lump for the crabmeat and for chicken breast, use an organic free range chicken breast. The breasts should be tenderize and thick enough to accommodate a filling lest the filling bulges out. I definitely do not recommend imitation crabmeat for this recipe and just in case you didn’t know, most of them are Alaskan pollock.
Note #5: Using the crab imperial as a topping, rather than as a stuffing. This is a huge variation, however, in situations where you’ve got more crab imperial sauce than chicken breasts, and stuffing will yield way too much excess, then by all means top it up.
Note #6: You can make the crab imperial ahead, just cover it up and refrigerate. Oh, explore! Try a new ingredient like wrapping up the chicken chesapeake with imperial sauce with smoked ham. Do anything, just be creative.
What To Do With Leftovers
It’s more likely that you’ll have leftover imperial sauce or crab imperial, if you baked separately. For leftover imperial sauce, you can keep in the fridge and afterwards, bake it to crab imperial which works as stuffing for shrimp, lobster, mushrooms or even for some more chicken, the next day.
And though this is most unlikely to happen, you might end up with excess chicken breasts. Well, that’s easier to deal with and there are a lot of dishes to try out that requires chicken.
You can also pair your leftovers with side dishes. Garlic bread for example is an excellent choice. And then there’s plain rice, French fries, salads, couscous, mashed potatoes, rice pilaf, soup, orzo, green vegetables and anything you are thinking of right now. Trust me, there’s no one way of eating your chesapeake. It’s all about a creamy based crab stuffed in chicken that’s flavorful, moist and delicious.
Following the chicken chesapeake recipe up there will guide you to a nicely balanced spiced dish. You can make plans to marinate the breasts first before stuffing it up and baking. Personalizing the recipe to fit your own favorite cravings such as bacon, Tabasco sauce, or parmesan cheese is an awesome experience. You get to have fun while cooking and feel blessed while eating.