I used to have a neighbor that would stand outside with me while our small children played, and we would talk about the things people generally talk about with their neighbors: our louder less considerate neighbors, our husbands, jobs, the current milestones of our kids, and of course, what was for dinner that night.
It generally went something like this…
“Well, it’s 4:00, I guess I should figure out what we’re eating tonight. What are you guys doing?”
“I don’t know, maybe tacos? I have some leftover rice I could use…What about you?”
“I have some chicken breasts in the fridge, probably something with them.”
And even though weeks and months passed, we kept meeting up and having these same type of conversations. After a while, it became sort of a thing to say “Let me guess, chicken tonight?”.
And it was true. It became a goal of mine to find ways to work chicken breasts into our dinners in new and different ways; mostly because they were a source of protein, they were relatively healthy, and they could be made to taste almost any way that I could imagine. Chicken satay with peanut sauce, BBQ chicken on the grill, chicken and rice casserole, chicken strips coated in panko crunchies, on and on and on…
One of my favorite ways to use chicken breasts has to be stuffing them. It allows for endless types of fillings and toppings, and for me I prefer the texture of thinner pieces of chicken over a thick chunk of breast meat. When I attended Culinary School, I learned how to make a proper Chicken Cordon Bleu, how to fill them, roll them up, put them in wraps, and freeze them (then take them out later to bread and bake them). This is a much quicker and more relaxed version of that process, and it’s the way I do it at home. So often stuffed chicken can be very heavy, full of rice or other meats, and I prefer it this way – with veggies and a cream sauce.
Bacon Wrapped Chicken with Summer Veggies
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
8 slices bacon, cut in half (width wise), preferably thick cut or mostly meat over fat
1 Tb olive oil
1 small green zucchini, ends removed and small dice
1 small red onion, small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tomato (preferably hot-house or on the vine), squeezed of juices and small diced
3/4 c sour cream
1 c shredded cheddar cheese (or cheese of your choice)
2 Tb fresh chives
Salt and Pepper
Dried oregano and garlic powder to taste
Take each chicken breasts and remove and excess fat or un-tasty bits. Taking a serrated or sharp knife, butterfly the breasts (leaving the pieces intact to make one large thin piece). Using a meat mallet, pound the chicken as flat as possible without making holes in the meat or making it too thin to use. Season both sides of the meat with salt and pepper, dried herbs and garlic powder.
Saute zucchini and onions in olive oil on medium high heat until slightly softened. Add the garlic and tomatoes, and saute one minute more. Salt and pepper mixture to taste.
In a large bowl, add sautéed veggies, sour cream, chives and cheese. Mix together. If you feel that the mix needs more to hold it together, add more cream or cheese, it will depend on the size of veggies that you used.
Place a large amount of the veggie mix on one half of the butterflied chicken (it should be a tall mound), and fold the other half of the chicken over it. Place 3 or 4 of the halved bacon slices on top of the chicken, and sprinkle with fresh ground pepper. Repeat for all 4 chicken breasts.
Place breasts on a sheet pan lined with foil or sprayed with cooking spray, and place in an oven that has been preheated to 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
After the 30 minutes, check the doneness of the chicken. There should be clear juices and the meat should feel mostly firm. If it is done, turn the oven on to a high broil to brown the bacon pieces for approx 4-5 minutes. Be sure to keep you eye on it, it would be a shame to burn it now!
When they are browned and everything looks lovely, remove from oven and let it cool for 5 minutes. Slice each breast into 3 or 4 pieces, following the lines of the bacon, and serve.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did! Any of the veggies can be interchanged with ones you prefer: small pieces of broccoli, carrot, eggplant, mushrooms, anything you can dream up!