One very important thing that I learned in culinary school was just to go for it, whether ‘it’ is a strange ingredient, a new technique or an intriguing recipe. You never know if you like something or if you can do something, unless you try! If it wasn’t for my chefs encouraging (and sometimes haranguing me), I never would have deep fried a soft boiled egg (freakishly good), or made a three layer mousse cake or butchered a rabbit. Being graded on dishes definitely put me in the mindset of success being the only option, and it is nice to have that confidence in the kitchen to tap into when attempting something new. So think about all the great dishes you already make, and know that you can most certainly cook anything you put your mind to!
Master Yoda’s jedi wisdom is useful in our universe as well.
Stuffed chicken was a dish that I learned in my first few months of culinary school, that I probably wouldn’t have attempted on my own but it’s surprisingly easy and is now one of my favorite chicken dishes. Once you learn the technique, you can flavor it any way you want, this recipe uses some Spanish flavors. If you don’t feel like de-boning chicken you can cut a pocket into a chicken breast or flatten out a boneless chicken thigh and stuff it.
Bacon Stuffed Chicken Thighs –served with mashed potatoes and roasted broccoli
Serves 3 – cost approx $.77 per serving ($1.16 per serving including side dishes)
- 3 chicken thighs ($1.20)
- 2 oz bacon ($.25)
- 1/2 onion, finely diced ($.05)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup parsley ($.12)
- 2 Tbs sun dried tomatoes, minced ($.25)
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 2 Tbs butter, room temperature – divided use
- salt and pepper – to taste
- 1 pinch smoked paprika
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1/2 cup white wine ($.20)
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Begin by preparing your chicken to accept stuffing. If you’re using a boneless thigh, flatten it out by smashing it with a heavy pan. If you’re using a breast, use a paring knife to cut a pocket that runs the length of the breast. I used bone in thighs and I cut out the bone myself. Cut around the end of one bone and carefully cut down the length of the bone, making a pocket or a little tunnel through the chicken thigh.
Start the stuffing by cutting the bacon into small pieces and rendering them in a saute pan over medium low heat. When there’s enough bacon fat in the pan, add the onion and garlic. Cook until the onions are translucent. Mix the onion and bacon mixture with the parsley, bread crumbs, sun dried tomatoes and 1 tbs butter to make the stuffing. Season to taste with the salt and black pepper.
Season the inside and outside of your chicken with salt, pepper and a pinch of paprika, then stuff. You may have to use a few toothpicks to close the chicken around the stuffing.
Heat an oven safe pan over high heat and sear the chicken thighs. Transfer the pan to your oven and bake at 375 F for about 20 min, depending on the size of your chicken.
When the chicken is fully cooked, remove it from the pan to a plate to rest while you make the pan sauce. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and simmer to reduce for a minute or two. Whisk in the remaining tablespoon of butter and pour over the chicken pieces. Yum!