Stuffed Chicken with Tomatoes
I randomly bought a pack of chicken breasts the last time I was grocery shopping and felt like trying out a new recipe to make them. I consulted my trusty What to Cook and How to Cook It book and found this recipe which I have been meaning to try for a while. It calls for stuffing the chicken breasts with goat cheese (which Jen and I LOVE) and wrapping with bacon (and who doesn’t love bacon?!), but we typically try to eat healthy, so have been shying away from this particular recipe. But I decided to go with it anyway this time and served it simply with Roasted Asparagus and a side of spinach and tomatoes (drizzled with lemon juice), so the sides were quite healthy.
The preparation and cooking time were very short and convenient for a weeknight. One note on the bacon though: the recipe calls for cured bacon, which my local Whole Foods doesn’t sell. I also had no idea about the real distinction between cured and uncured bacon. I just figured all of it was cured, since it tastes salty. Upon some reading from SFGate, I learned that “uncured means that the bacon hasn’t been cured in the traditional way using sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite to preserve the pork and keep it pink or red. Instead, the uncured versions generally use salt, lactic acid starter culture and celery juice, which is loaded with natural sodium nitrate, to create the distinctive bacon flavor.” So just keep this in mind next time you’re bacon shopping!
Stuffed Chicken with Tomatoes
Yield: 3-4 servings, depending on number of chicken breasts
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary (I used more because I had extra)
- 4 medium skinless, boneless chicken breasts (I only had three)
- 3.5 oz goat cheese (or any full-fat soft cheese)
- 8 strips dry-cured smoked bacon
- 1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
- 4 large or 6 smaller ripe tomatoes (note that not all of them might fit in your casserole)
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 3.5 oz arugula, or any other leafy salad green (optional, I used spinach as a side)
- 1/2 lemon (optional with arugula)
- salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Finely chop the needle-shape leaves from the rosemary. Put the chicken onto a cutting board. Using a small sharp knife, cut a slit into the thickest part of each chicken breast, then poke down inside the chicken to make a pocket. Spoon the cheese into each pocket, using your fingers to help, then seal the pocket up as well as you can.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with half of the rosemary. Wrap 2 strips of bacon tightly around each piece of chicken, tucking in any loose ends.
Place a shallow, flameproof casserole over high heat, then add the sunflower or vegetable oil. (Jen and I don’t own a nice flame proof casserole, so I used a regular frying pan). After 30 seconds, add the chicken. Cook for at least 2 minutes on each side, until the bacon is starting to turn golden. Kitchen tongs are useful here!
Meanwhile, very thickly slice the tomatoes and thinly slice the garlic. Add the tomatoes to the casserole, then sprinkle them with the remaining rosemary and the garlic. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle about 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Put the pan into the oven for 25 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and set aside for a couple of minutes to let the chicken rest. Then serve with the tomatoes, and optional arugula side salad (dressed with squeezed lemon juice). I served this dish with Roasted Asparagus and a side of spinach and tomato salad.