Food confession #463: Baked chicken skeeves me out.
I don’t mean a crispy-skinned roasted chicken, or finishing off a chicken breast in the oven that you pan-seared first. I’m talking seasoning or saucing a chicken breast and sticking it in the oven to cook completely. I’ve at least come to embrace the baked panko- or breadcrumb-coated chicken (but 9 out of 10 times, I’ll still pan fry that sucker, first), but I don’t think I will ever embrace the seasoned, baked chicken breast. I’m sorry! I imagine if you make your chicken this way often, you have a “WTF does she know?” look on your face right now, as I frequently do when people tell me they won’t eat dark meat chicken. :-)
Now, there are a couple reasons for this (umm, I really like oil and butter, for one), but mainly it’s the lack of color and the odd texture. It’s just unappetizing (to me).
That said, there are a few ingredients that I’ve come to realize save many a dish and/or a cooking method. At the top of that list is bacon. Oh, bacon, how I love thee. Not only does bacon add moistness and flavor to a baked piece of chicken, it makes the chicken bacony-flavored, too. And really, who doesn’t want chicken that tastes more like bacon? I mean, I’m pretty sure people wouldn’t complain about having to eat chicken breasts all the time if they tasted like bacon.
To capitalize on both the smokiness of the bacon and my love of cheese, I stuffed this chicken with some smoked mozzarella. This dish will take about 2 minutes to prep and then you can just finish your sides (in our case, braised lentils with kale and green/wax beans) as it cooks in the oven.
Smoked Mozzarella and Bacon Chicken
1. Slit your chicken breasts (or butterfly them) and stuff them with smoked mozzarella (I very thinly sliced mine which I think is the easiest way to get it in the pocket). Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper.
2. Take 2 strips of bacon per chicken breast, and wrap them around the chicken. This will keep the chicken moist (and tasty) and it will even help to seal up your pocket-full of cheese.
3. Stick the chicken breast on a rack, and then put that on a lipped cookie sheet (to catch any bacon grease that drips down) and cook it in a 375 oven for 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the peace of chicken.