Fennel & Onion Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped, Paprika-Crusted Chicken Breast

Untitled33Wow, talk about a mouthful for the name of this dish, but it’s actually a really simple one to make. I used skinless chicken breasts, but you can use ones with skin on if you’re into chicken skins. However, since it’s spicy rub encrusted, the spices absorb into the chicken somewhat better if you use skinless chicken for the dish. If you’re looking to make the dish on the cheap, you can use the bulk frozen chicken breasts that you can buy at the grocery store or Sam’s club.

Ingredients:

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 4-8 pieces of bacon (depending on how much bacon you want–I used 1 piece per chicken, but we’re trying to limit animals fats)
  • 2 tablespoons mayo
  • 1 tsp prepared mustard
  • 2 fronds and stalks from a fennel bulb
  • 1 yellow sweet or vidalia onion
  • 2 firm, unripe or green tomatoes
  • fresh or chopped garlic, to taste preference
  • smoked paprika
  • turmeric
  • cumin
  • cayenne
  • a pinch of raw sugar/white sugar
  • black pepper
  • sea salt

Dry Rub and Crust the Chicken

Defrost your chicken or use fresh. The first thing you want to do is cut the chicken in half and open it up like a book, leaving it attached on one side–this is easier to do if your chicken is very cold or just starting to freeze. You don’t want frozen solid, or else it won’t cook right, but slightly frozen makes cutting and handling the chicken much easier.

Next, coat a plate in smoked paprika, turmeric, cumin, cayenne, a pinch of raw sugar/white sugar, black pepper and sea salt in proportions that favor your tastes. Some people like spicier so add more cayenne, more paprika if you like smoky, etc. Mix the dry spices well to blend. This is a dry rub, so you do not wet or coat the chicken with anything. Instead, put the shiny smooth outside of the chicken down on the plate and completely press the chicken into the spices. Coat the chicken with the spice rub thoroughly–you want chunks of spice and powder hanging onto the outside of the chicken, so that the chicken is red/orange on the outside. Let this sit–the longer it sits the better, so if you start with the chicken rub, you can do all the other steps before stuffing, or even coat the chicken with the rub the night before. The better flavor comes from the longer it sits–but if you only have a few minutes while you’re doing the other steps, don’t worry–it’ll still taste amazing.

For extra spice and flavor, you can coat the inside of the chicken too, where the stuffing goes–I didn’t, but you definitely could.

Fennel & Onion Stuffing for the Paprika-spiced Chicken Breast20140813_173527

This is an easy veggie side to make to stuff into the chicken. I used to fronds from a fennel bulb, chopped up the bulb part into small dices and then pulled the fennel fronds from the shaft and chopped the fresh fennel fronds. Then I diced half of an onion and circle sliced half of the onion. The diced half, I put with the fennel in a small bowl.

Add mayo, mustard, some salt, black pepper and fresh/chopped garlic. Mix together until the color is uniform (the mustard is mixed in properly). Set aside.

Slice the green/unripe/firm tomato slices into thick-ish slices. Lightly salt with sea salt and let sit on a plate.

Prepare, Stuff and Bacon-Wrap the Chicken Breast

Next, you want to take one or two pieces of bacon and lay them flat on a baking sheet. Take your dry rubbed chicken and put it rub-side down, open on the top of the bacon. Place one or two (depending on size) tomato slices flat on one side of the open chicken. Spoon one or two spoonfuls of the fennel & onion onto the open face of the chicken. Next, close the chicken by folding the open face over the fennel & onion. Pull it tight, and don’t worry if some of the stuff falls out. Next, while holding the chicken as closed as possible, slowly wrap the bacon around the chicken. You can use wooden toothpicks to hold the bacon in place and keep the chicken closed. You can pull them out before you serve, and the cooked meat will retain the shape.

Onion Toppers/Optional

I had a ton of spice Untitled33rub left over, and I didn’t want to put it in a bag to save because I had pressed raw chicken into it, so I needed a way to cook it. So I took a tablespoon of olive oil and took the half of an onion that I had cut into slices, put the dry rub, the onions and the oil into a plastic Ziploc bag and coated the onions in the oil and spice rub. I then put the spiced onions on top of the bacon-chicken wraps so they could crisp up and fry with all that flavor.

I popped the chicken onto a baking sheet and popped them into the oven on 350 for 30 minutes, uncovered. Then, I increased the temperature to 475 and cooked it for about 15 minutes. The first part cooks the chicken slowly and thoroughly throughout, while not letting it dry out. The second part crisps up the bacon and onions on top and makes the crust crusty.

This dish will result in juicy, flavorful chicken!

Variations:

You can use ricotta cheese and spinach with yellow squash for a filling! Do some creative fillers–goat cheese would be good too!

Enjoy!

Love and stuff,

Michy

 

 

 

 

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