Smoky Stuffed Chicken with Serrano Ham and Olives

For the best chicken breast, buy bone-in and then debone the chicken breast at home, says food stylist and cookbook author Susan Spungen. To debone a chicken breast, use a small knife to separate the meat from the bone at the narrow part where the ribs are, scraping the knife against the bone to waste as little meat as possible. While bones keep chicken moist, two other factors are more important for juicy chicken: keeping the skin on and not overcooking. Skin also provides a handy vehicle for stuffing, which adds fat and flavor—in this case, from salty olives, serrano ham, garlic, and herbs. To ensure that the stuffed breasts stay juicy, pull them out of the oven when an instant-read thermometer reaches 155°F; it will carry over to 160°F as the chicken rests. Serve the chicken breasts when they're fresh from the oven with golden, crispy skin, with a generous spoonful of the garlicky pan juices.

Smoky Stuffed Chicken with Serrano Ham and Olives
Photo: Photo by Eva Kolenko / Food Styling by Carrie Purcell / Prop Styling by Jillian Knox
Active Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs


  • 2 ounces serrano ham or prosciutto, chopped (about 1/2 cup)

  • ½ cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, plus more for garnish

  • ½ cup oil-cured black olives, pitted and torn in half, divided

  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves

  • 3 tablespoons sliced garlic, divided

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

  • 4 (about 11-ounce) bone-in, skin-on split chicken breasts

  • 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided

  • 3 cups halved grape tomatoes

  • 4 (1-inch-thick) sourdough bread slices (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Process serrano, ham, parsley, 1/4 cup olives, rosemary, and 1 tablespoon garlic in a food processor until coarsely chopped, 15 to 20 seconds. Add butter; pulse until mixture is thoroughly combined and starts to clump together, about 15 pulses. Transfer to a small bowl, and set aside.

  2. Stir together salt, smoked paprika, and black pepper in a small bowl. Set aside. To debone chicken breasts, slide a sharp, medium-size knife between ribs and meat on thin side of each breast to scrape some of the meat away from the bone. Grab onto the ribs, and continue working the knife between the bones and the meat, staying as close to the bones as possible. Keep working the knife against and around the bones until the bones come free. Repeat with remaining breasts.

  3. To separate skin from chicken breast, start at pointed end of breast, and work your finger carefully beneath skin to separate it, leaving skin attached on the other three sides. Divide serrano stuffing into 4 even portions (about 2 tablespoons each). Push 1 portion of stuffing under skin of 1 chicken breast. Press down on top of skin to spread stuffing evenly over surface of breast. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts and stuffing. Drizzle 2 teaspoons olive oil over stuffed chicken breasts; sprinkle evenly with salt mixture.

  4. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large (12-inch) stainless steel skillet over medium-high. Add chicken breasts to skillet, skin sides down; cook, undisturbed, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip chicken, and cook until chicken is browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Gently add tomatoes, remaining 1/4 cup olives, and remaining 2 tablespoons garlic to pan, stirring to coat with oil.

  5. Transfer pan to preheated oven, and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of chicken breast reaches 165°F, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken breasts to a plate to rest.

  6. If desired, preheat oven to broil with oven rack about 6 inches from heat. Toast bread until golden, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Cut each chicken breast into thick slices, and arrange on top of bread, if desired. Spoon tomatoes and olives onto each plate, and drizzle pan juices over chicken to moisten bread. Garnish with parsley.

Suggested Pairing

Classic, red-fruited Rioja: Sierra Cantabria Crianza

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