Introduction: Smoked Bacon and Ricotta Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts
It looks as though bacon will always rule as king of the breakfast meats. Interesting enough, we don't reach for bacon near enough to add great flavor and fat to other meals, like lunch or dinner. The addition of bacon to other dishes can be a good way to enjoy its smoked flavor.
Do you know the process of smoking bacon?
Chef Jeff Raycroft explains that homemade smoked bacon is a simple process. Jeff says the bacon should be hot smoked in a smoker that has reached an internal temperature of at least 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
When the smoker is ready, the bacon should be hung or placed on racks and smoked until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Afterward being smoked, the meat needs to be cooled and sliced.
If using charcoal in your smoker, add soaked wood chips directly on top of the charcoal then a water bath added above that to keep humidity up in the smoker which stops the meat from being dried out.
Chef Raycroft recommends the book, "Charcuterie - The Craft of Salting, Smoking & Curing" buy Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn. Link here to have a look inside the book.
Step 1: Ingredients
Our featured recipe is Smoked Bacon And Ricotta Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts, and here is what you will need.
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 6-oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons crumbled cooked smoked bacon - 1 slice of bacon = 1 tablespoon crumbled, cooked bacon
6 basil leaves, rolled and thinly sliced
1 cup balsamic vinegar
Himalayan salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
My favorite smoked bacon to use is Smoked Apple Bourbon Pork Bacon - purchased at your local Whole Foods Market.
Step 2: Directions: Preparation and Cooking
First preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Butterfly the chicken breast by running a sharp knife horizontally through the thickest part of each breast. Place one hand on top of the breast to stabilize while holding the knife parallel to the work surface while cutting. Do not cut all the way through.
Step 3: Stuffing Chicken Breasts
Open the breast so both halves can lie flat. Season the exposed surface with salt and pepper, then add 1/4 of the ricotta cheese, crumbled smoked bacon, and sliced basil leaves to each breast.
Fold the breasts in half so the cheese mixture is surrounded by chicken breast on the bottom, back and top. Secure with long wooden toothpicks, if desired.
Step 4: Pan Browning Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large oven-safe skillet. Once hot, add the stuffed chicken breasts to the pan to sear.
Once browned on the bottom, carefully turn each breast over and repeat on the other side. Season top and bottom with salt and pepper, if desired, during this process. Place skillet in preheated oven and cook until an instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees when inserted, approximately 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover until ready to serve.
Step 5: Adding Finishing Touches - Platting and Serving
A few minutes before removing the chicken from the oven, start making the balsamic glaze. Heat balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat.
Stir while heating until the vinegar is reduced to about 1/3 of its original volume. It will form a thick, syrupy consistency when it is ready. To serve, place a stuffed chicken breast on each plate and drizzle with balsamic glaze. Pairs well with a mixed green salad or roasted vegetables.
Here are some ideas for roasted vegetables (click links to view recipe):
- Roasted Sweet Potatoes And Figs
- Citrus Herb Roasted Vegetables
- Excite Your Palate with Spice Roasted Vegetables
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