Say goodbye to tasteless chicken and hello to Cherry Cheese Ham Chicken. Chicken breasts are basically a blank canvas, much like pasta. Top them with cherry preserves, Gouda cheese, and wrap in ham, and you have a stunningly flavorful entree suitable for the finest guests.
Check out my notes below for potential substitutions before you begin.
Cherry Cheese Ham Chicken Recipe
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup cherry preserves, plus extra for garnish (tested with Smucker’s Orchard Finest Michigan Red Tart Cherry Preserves)
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
4 slices Gouda cheese, sliced about 1/4-inch thick (see Notes)
Fresh sage or basil leaves
4 slices good quality ham, sliced very thin and large enough to wrap each chicken breast individually (see Notes)
Rinse boneless, skinless chicken breasts and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and freshly-ground black pepper.
Line a jelly roll pan or shallow baking pan with non-stick foil. Preheat oven to 425 F.
Stir cherry preserves, mayonnaise, and Dijon mustard together until combined. Smear both sides of each chicken breast with the cherry mixture, reserving the cherry chunks for the top sides. Place Gouda cheese slices on top of the cherry sauce, then layer with sage or basil leaves. Finally, wrap each chicken breast in a thin slice of ham, tucking edges under the bottom so they are fully enclosed.
Place on prepared pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken. Test with an instant-read meat thermometer by inserting the probe from the side into the thickest part. It should read 165 F.
Let rest 10 minutes, then cut across the center into 1-inch thick slices so that the layers show. Garnish with an additional tablespoon of cherry preserves on the side.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings, depending on the size of the chicken breasts
• By a good quality ham, I mean one that is not loaded with water. Most grocery store delis will carry finer grades of ham. Virginia ham is usually a good choice. It is essential that the ham be sliced paper-thin, almost to the point of see-through.
• Most delis also carry Gouda cheese that you can buy by the slice. If you buy a wedge, simply cut smaller thick pieces yourself and piece them together so the tops of the chicken breasts are covered. You may substitute a good quality Swiss cheese or Edam cheese.
• This recipe is designed for chicken breasts, and caution must be taken to not overcook them. Chicken white meat becomes notoriously dry when overcooked. However, if you are not a fan of white meat, try it with skinless chicken thighs. Since dark meat takes longer to cook, you will need to reduce the heat to 400 F, and cook 5 to 10 minutes longer. Always test with a meat thermometer for doneness (165 F.).
• If cherries do not appeal to you, try substituting your favorite fruit preserves. However, I strongly suggest you use preserves as opposed to a jelly or jam. The fruit chunks are part of the allure of the dish. Sugar-free preserves work fine.
Cherry Cheese Ham Chicken Recipe Photo ©2019 Peggy Filippone