Bacon Belted Stuffed Chicken
This has been one of my favorite dishes to perfect and serve. It gets easier and better every time I make it. The third time was the charm, and I would like to share it with you. Here is my starting line-up:
6 - 12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
salt and pepper
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 shallots or 1 red onion, finely chopped
6 sage leaves, finely chopped + 6 - 12 sage leaves (to go on the chicken)
1/4 cup smoked mozzarella and 1/4 cup Fontina cheese or 1/2 cup your favorite cheese, such as mozzarella or Gouda
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, or, a pinch of dried oregano, dried thyme and dried basil, blended to make two teaspoons
1 tablespoon Paprika
1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
12+ strips of smokey or peppered bacon
2 - 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Combine the garlic, shallots, finely chopped sage leaves, herbs, Paprika, vinegar and cheese in a bowl, and set aside in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to marry.
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
Meanwhile, prep the chicken. Add a little salt and pepper to both sides of the chicken thighs and open them up (no need to butterfly them). Lay out a strip or two of bacon (depending on the size of the thigh; one strip for a medium to small thigh and two for a larger thigh) and place the thigh cross-wise over the bacon. Using a teaspoon, add a good spoonful of the cheese and herb mixture to the center of the thigh. Close it up and roll the thigh tightly in the strip of bacon. No need to add toothpicks. Add a sage leave to the back side of the thigh. The sage leaf will stick to it.
Add the olive oil to a high-sided large skillet over medium-high heat. add the bacon-wrapped thighs, sage leaf side down when the oil begins to ripple, telling you the skillet it very hot and ready for searing. Gently brown the thighs on both sides, and add them to a large baking sheet lined with rack. Place the rack in the oven and allow the chicken to finish cooking through in the oven, about 20 minutes. This process will ensure thorough cooking and maintaining the crispness of the bacon and the thigh.
Serve this meal with potatoes or rice or salad. I served it with a citrus salad with pomegranate balsamic and honey drizzle.
Simple, easy, quick, and beyond flavorful.