Photo: Kate Bernot

My younger brother has a steady job, a beautiful apartment, a whip-smart girlfriend, and even an adorable rescue dog named Mila. He’s really killing it. But years ago, he was just another hapless, fresh-out-of-college dude who struggled to complete basic tasks like finding dress pants that fit or preparing a meal that didn’t come in a plastic tray. (This despite the fact that he went to hospitality school.) One evening in 2013, he texted his wise older sister: “Katie, wanna send me a recipe for something to cook tonight for my date?”

Oh young grasshopper, I thought, my heart melting into a puddle of sisterly pride. You’ve come to the right place. I text him back: “Braised oxtail! Seared scallops!”

His response: “Those are way too hard. And expensive. I only have pickles and milk and mustard in my fridge.”

Okay, so it was going to be a Tarzan-cooks-for-Jane situation. I reached deep into the recesses of my mental rolodex, searching for a dinner that was easy but impressive, simple but not boring, and ideally involved fewer than eight ingredients. One sprang to mind, a chicken dish my mom had shown me how to make years before. Bingo.

Brie- and spinach-stuffed chicken, I texted him. I’ll email you the recipe.

This dish is the culinary equivalent of another piece of hosting advice I picked up in adolescence: If company is coming over and you’re screwed for time, just vacuum the entryway, because no one will look at the floor after that. Guests hear “Brie-stuffed” and see the juicy, mustard-brushed chicken and think it’s fancy. Never mind that you just defrosted the chicken breasts an hour ago, or that two of the main ingredients are fridge-staple condiments. Brie is fancy, ipso facto this dish is fancy.

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Now I’m not taking full credit, but my brother is still together with that same girlfriend. Is this brilliant stuffed chicken to thank? Correlation isn’t causation, I know, but I’ll totally bring it up at their wedding.


Kate’s Date-Saving Brie Spinach-Stuffed Chicken

Makes two romantic servings

  • 2 thin-cut chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • 4 oz. Brie cheese, cut into 4 slices
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • Wooden toothpicks

Heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with foil. Submerge toothpicks in a cup of water.

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In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise and mustard. Spread all sides of each chicken cutlet with the mixture, then season with salt and pepper. Place two slices of Brie in the center of each cutlet; evenly divide the spinach and place it on top of the Brie on each piece. Fold the cutlet in half to form an envelop over the cheese and spinach; secure with a toothpick.

Bake the chicken in the oven for 12 minutes until the top is golden and the cutlet is cooked through. Serve with rice or vegetables.