Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Another MacGuyver Meal gone gourmet

Don't laugh! I am the MacGuyver of the kitchen!! My best friend always says I can take black pepper and an ice cube and come up with a gourmet meal- so that's what I'm going to do tonight. Totally going to experiment with an idea I have been working on for a long time in my head and use my Chef as the guinea pig. Fun, huh?

I've been playing around with the idea of stuffed chicken rolls for some time. I've seen similar things in cookbooks and online, but I just wasn't sure what flavor profile I wanted to go with. Sun dried tomato and ?? Italian seasoned ?? I just wasn't sure. But then I got the idea of glazing......and bacon.....and sweet/hot and crunchy/smoky won out.

As you know, we LOVE hot and spicy here, so I'm going in a spicy direction- jalapeno spicy. Not quite ready to get all crazy with ghost chilies just yet this year. That comes later. I also have to consider my somewhat limited options at the grocery store in town if I'm looking for a special ingredient. In this case, I really wanted goat cheese, but try to get that in a town of 1600 and........cream cheese it is. I will be adjusting that flavor to a little more tangy with a little tiny bit of lemon juice. 

I am also going to make good use of items I already have in my pantry and fridge. Things I have canned myself (don't worry, the recipe will be available as well as substitutions if you don't want to go that route), pantry staples, herbs from the garden......

So are you ready for this "take 3 toothpicks, nail polish, hair ties and build a bomb" dinner?

Blueberry Jalapeno Basted Bacon Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
sliced bacon (regular, not thick sliced)
8 ounce package cream cheese, softened (I wanted goat cheese but it was unavailable)
1/4 cup chopped candied jalapeno slices  (click for recipe) **
1/2 cup blueberry jam
1/4 cup syrup from jalapeno slices, approximately **
big pinch chopped chives
4 cloves garlic, finely minced 
1/4 cup finely minced onion
Salt, pepper, cooking oil

Rinse chicken breasts and pat dry. Between sheets of plastic, lightly pound out the breasts to about half an inch thickness. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Another option, if you don't want to pound out the chicken, you can butterfly the breasts and fill the pocket with the stuffing mixture.

In small skillet add just a touch of oil and briefly saute the garlic and onion- no need to cook it long, just enough to get the "raw" out. I tossed the chopped jalapeno in there when the onions and garlic were sweated down nicely.

In small bowl combine cheese, chopped jalapeno, garlic, onion and chives. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well. Taste test it- if it's too "sweet" hit it with a little lemon juice to mimic the tartness of goat cheese.

Divide mixture between the four chicken breasts and spread out but NOT to the edges. Roll up the chicken. Using one or two strips of bacon per breast, roll around the chicken to seal the edges tightly. Secure with kitchen twine or toothpicks.

Transfer to rimmed baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees. A rimmed sheet is important to circulate the heat around the bacon and crisp it evenly.

Meanwhile, combine jam with liquid from jalapenos. Start with half the amount of liquid and check consistency. When you have a nice syrupy consistency, brush or spoon some of the glaze over the chicken and continue baking, glazing occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, bacon is crisp and glaze is sticky and golden, about 45 minutes to an hour or until chicken is 180 degrees.

** The jalapenos I used for this recipe are called Cowboy Candy and you can find my recipe by clicking here. HOWEVER, if you don't have this, or don't want to make it, you MIGHT be able to find sweet pickled/candied jalapenos in the grocery store. There are a few brands that make it. If you cannot, it's ok to use regular jalapenos from the jar but you will want to use LESS for the glaze or it might be too vinegary. Taste as you add it and use caution. You can also skip the glaze altogether if you are unable to find a suitable substitute. I don't recommend fresh jalapenos for this recipe.

I served my Blueberry Basted Bacon Chicken with roasted baby purple potatoes and fresh asparagus. I am a sucker for those cute little baby vegetables when I see them in the store. I sneak them in the cart when I can. Asparagus is one of my very favorite vegetables and even though it's February and they definitely are not in season, I still pick some up occasionally. I love their fresh flavor and crunch when just lightly roasted with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt.

And what did The Chef have to say about dinner? He said it "was the best meal he's ever eaten" so I'll take that as a win!

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