Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Chicken with blue cheese and bacon - Yum!

So I was reading my blogs yesterday, when I came across this recipe from "What do I want to cook today?" I thought it looked delicious, but I doubted Pick n Pays capacity for stocking ricotta, especially at 7pm, so I got creative!

The original recipe is quite different, but I used the same basic elements: chicken, cheese and pork. I really enjoyed my version, and so did Conrad, so hopefully it wasn't just my bias! It looks as delicious as it sounds!
I really don't like chicken much, except braaied chicken, and then only chicken thighs. Yes, I'm probably full of it, but that's my business! But in these hard times, chicken is a really value-priced item, and I thought I'd give it a try! I made this with chicken thighs, bone in, because I like them that way, and blue cheese and mozzarella. Without further ado, here's the recipe with my changes:

Chicken with blue cheese stuffing, wrapped in bacon

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
Serves 4

4 chicken thighs

1 wedge blue cheese
2 pieces bacon per chicken piece (I used back bacon, but anything'll do, it has to wrap around the chicken piece) salt and pepper turmeric mozzarella for sprinkling afterwards a couple of grapes

Roast veggie base
1/2 red pepper 1/2 yellow pepper 2-3 baby marrows 2-4 patty pans (green and yellow) salt and pepper a pinch each oreganum and thyme (dried) You can throw anything into the roast veggie base, I used stuff I had in the fridge. You can even use one of those roast veggie packets from the supermarket, or with none at all, and serve it with a salad, I just did roast veggies, because I had all the ingredients, and thought they would work well together.

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C. 
  2. While the oven heats, trim fat off the chicken, and cut a slice into the middle of the meat. I leave the skin on, because I like it, but you can take it off if you'd like a healthier option. Or make the whole thing with deboned chicken breast, it would work just as well. 
  3. Cut a slice off the back of the blue cheese, and cut a piece big enough to fit into the slit you made in the chicken. Push the blue cheese slice in, and cover with skin. 
  4. Do this to all pieces, then season with salt, pepper and a little turmeric, if you have some, it gives it a delicious flavour and aroma! 
  5. Wrap each chicken piece in one or 2 pieces of bacon. I think streaky would work best, or pancetta if budget allows, but Pick n Pay had neither, and I like back bacon, so I used that. It took 2 pieces of back bacon per thigh, although they weren't big pieces, to cover them adequately. Wrap the ends underneath, neatly, and set aside, if you're making roast veggies, or move straight to the step after the veggies, if you're not.

** Skip this step if you're not making roast veggies**
  1. Next, chop any veggies you might be using, marrows, peppers, baby potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, etc. Anything'll work, but remember to roast the veggies longer if they're hard, like carrots and potatoes. Or parboil the hard veggies to reduce cooking time. 
  2. Once all is chopped, put the veggies in the bottom of a flat, glass, oven-proof dish and drizzle with a little olive oil. Toss the veggies, to make sure everything is coated, and season with a little salt and pepper, and any herbs you like, I used some origanum and thyme.
**Start again here if you aren't making roast veggies**
  1. Put the chicken pieces on top of the veggies, or into a greased, glass oven-proof dish. Cover (with foil or a lid, whichever you have) and stick in the oven, which will be hot by now. 

Although my explanation was lengthy, this really shouldn't take longer than 10-15 minutes. Roast for 30 minutes, untouched, covered, then remove from the oven, and take off the lid/foil. The chicken should start to look cooked and the veggies will have given off a lot of water.

Remove the covering totally, chop some grapes and toss them in, and put back in the oven for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, remove and put the grill on. Cover the chicken with mozzarella, and place back, under the grill. Now, watch it carefully, because it can burn quickly at this stage.
When the cheese has melted, and started to bubble and brown slightly, take it out. Remove the chicken, after checking it for doneness. It should be done by now. I then put the veggies back in, under the grill, just to brown them a bit and lose some of the accumulated water. I also needed the time to make some Smash (I know, it's not exactly domestic goddess, but I really wasn't in the mood for peeling potatoes!!) 5 minutes later I served the delicious chicken, roast veggies and Smash! The Smash is really good if you chuck some cheese and salt in. It's not real mash, but it's a LOT less effort!! Oh, and you might have be surprised about the grapes: I had planned to put them into the chicken with the blue cheese, but my little thighs had no space, so I tossed them in with the veggies. The contrast of sweet grapes, savoury veggies, sharp blue cheese and salty bacon was really good, and the melted mozzarella was divine!
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