We all have one of these pesto and bacon chicken recipes don’t we? Or at least some sort of recipe whereby we stuff a chicken breast with something gooey then wrap it in some sort of porky meat. Delicious when done well; dry and horrible when done poorly (usually when cooking for someone you want to impress).
This recipe uses homemade pesto, although your can buy your own (but seriously, make ours, it’s really easy and very tasty indeed) and smoked streaky bacon, but feel free to riff with unsmoked bacon, non-streaky bacon or even prosciutto or pancetta. And you may need a couple of cocktail sticks. Try not to overcook it though because it will turn dry and horrible pretty rapidly.
Scared yet? Let’s begin.
- 1 chicken breast per person
- about 3-4 tbsp fresh pesto
- 2-3 rashers smoked streaky bacon per person
- 2 cocktail sticks
- a little olive oil
- Unless you're preparing this several hours ahead, take the chicken breasts and bacon out of the fridge nice an early - an hour before in a cold kitchen won't do you any harm.
- Carefully, slice the chicken open along one side, but not all the way to the edges, so you're creating a pocket. When I say 'carefully, I mean don't cur yourself but also look where you're going. If you can get the slice in the chicken to pass through the middle depth wise, you have more chance of an evenly cooked chicken with the filling in the middle. Bear in mind that's it's to be stuffed too, so you need the right balance between having a pocket big enough to without the stuffing falling out everywhere, and actually making enough room to get lots of pesto in there.
- Next, spoon in and spread around the pesto.
- Stuff it as full as you like, but it's good to have a decent enough layer which will also let you close the pocket up again with relative ease.
- Now, grab your bacon. If the rashers are quite wide, cut them in half lengthways, then start to wrap them around the chicken at a slight angle, so that the next slice can join onto the first.
- Using cocktail sticks, skewer the chicken in a way that can take in the bacon and close that pocket you've made. 2 -3 cocktail sticks should be enough, but it's a good idea to count them so you can tell whomever you're serving how many they're looking for to avoid any unpleasant surprises!
- Preheat the oven to 180c. Heat the oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat and fry the chicken on both sides until the bacon is browning and crispy.
- Place on a baking tray in the centre of the oven for around 10 minutes (less if you cook it in the pan for a long, long time) and then check one they're cooked through by sticking a sharp knife into the thickest part of the breast to make sure none of the chicken is translucent. Cooking it through should be easiest if the chicken is an even temperature to start with by being out of the fridge.
- Serve with sweet potato wedges or pasta and peas and enjoy!