Tag Archives: Dinner Party Recipes

Pesto and Bacon Chicken

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.

Pesto and Bacon Chicken

Pesto and Bacon Chicken

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Next, spoon in and spread around the pesto.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Serve with sweet potato wedges or pasta and peas and enjoy!
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If you like pesto, you could also try our Salmon and Broccoli Cous Cous Bowl or Pesto Chicken Quesadilla.

Chicken and Chorizo Enchiladas

As promised in our easy enchilada sauce recipe post, here’s how to make our homemade chicken and chorizo enchiladas.  Save money, eat a little more healthily and surprise your friends and family with a delicious and fun homemade meal.  I last made this at the end of last month when Charles was out at the local community council meeting and we needed a supper we could eat late, but which could be prepared and kept warm, without getting ruined, if he happened to be running late.  This recipe is perfect for that as it can stay in the oven for around 40 minutes on a low temperature, just remember to turn it back up to 180 for 5 minutes or so before serving.  Incidentally, it also makes it a great informal dinner party dish which you can prepare ahead and leave in the oven while you entertain your guests.  Serve up with sweet potato wedges, tortilla chips, salad or rice as well as plenty of sour cream, guacamole and salsa and you have a great meal which will leave everyone with a smile on their face and belly full of tasty food.

Whilst fajitas are always popular, serving them to guests can be a bit of a mess and a bit of a faff, with everyone building their own.  Enchiladas are a little less messy as they are pre-rolled to be served from the dish, but are also a little more luxurious being smothered in spicy sauce and cheese.  This is a super simple chicken enchilada recipe which can easily be made more impressive by making your own flour tortillas and serving with homemade tortilla chips (although making your own tortilla chips with homemade flour tortillas is probably overkill!).

This recipe will serve two generously, so double up on everything to feed four, and triple to feed six.

Chicken and Chorizo Enchiladas

Chicken and Chorizo Enchiladas

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small knob ginger
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 cooking chorizo or half a larger cooking chorizo ring
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 flour or corn tortillas
  • 1 quantity homemade enchilada sauce
  • As much cheddar, mozzarella or Monterey Jack as you care to grate
  • Salsa, guacamole and sour cream to serve

Instructions

  1. The first thing you'll need to do is get your enchilada sauce on the go, that way you can get let it simmer away and cook out while you're working on everything else. It's essentially just a spiced tomato sauce, so you can of course cheat with this step and buy a tasty tomato sauce or enchilada sauce in a jar - but this way is so easy it wouldn't be worth it! Oh, and preheat the oven to 200c.
  2. Next, set a large frying pan or wok onto a medium to high heat, and add in the olive oil. Finely slice the red onion and add to the pan once it's come up to heat and then grate in the garlic and ginger.
  3. Slice up the pepper and add to the pan.
  4. Cook all of this until the onions have turned transparent and the peppers have started to soften. I like mine to retain a little crunch, and they invariably will do unless you cook them for half an hour or more. Add the tomato puree and stir well. This should be cooked out for 5-10 minutes at a lower heat to help it to lose its metallic taste.
  5. Slice the chorizo into bite-sized chunks and add it to the pan whilst the temperature is still relatively low. This will help the fat to render out gently before the chorizo cooks through. If you fry chorizo on too high a heat it will seal on the outside before cooking through meaning more of the fat will be trapped in. Charles and I have taken to referring to chorizo as a 'seasoning' now, as we like to add it to most dishes we make with chicken or turkey because it adds so much flavour and texture. It;s like amped up bacon!
  6. Slice the chicken into long strips and turn up the heat under the pan to the highest heat. Push the vegetables and chorizo to one side to maximise the pan's surface area for frying off the chicken. The chorizo should have leaked enough paprika-y fat for you to fry in, and if there's a lot you may want to use some kitchen towel to carefully absorb and discard any excess to keep the dish a bit healthier.
  7. Add the chicken strips to the pan, spreading them out with tongs to make sure they have equal access to brown. Add the various spices and salt and pepper before carefully flipping each piece to fry on the other side. Then allow to cook for 5 minutes or so further at a slightly lower heat, mixing the vegetables and chorizo back in with the chicken to make sure it's all hot and cooked through.
  8. Grate as much cheese as you'd like! We like a little sprinkled into each wrap, as well as enough to cover the surface of the wrapped and sauced wraps. Grab a square or rectangular casserole dish that will fit the wraps snugly, and follow the instructions on the wraps to get them warm and flexible enough to wrap up nicely - usually by microwaving for 30 seconds.
  9. Use tongs or a spoon to fill each wrap, trying to split the filling evenly between the number of wraps you're using depending on how many you're feeding. This recipe should let you have two wraps each. Add the filling in a strip just left of centre as pictured so that you can neatly fold and roll your wraps. Add a layer of grated cheese and wrap up. My technique is to tuck the short ends in, fold over the smaller edge and then use this to push the filling back while you roll it over the rest of the wrap.
  10. Place each wrap into the casserole dish with the seam underneath.
  11. Spoon over the enchilada sauce you have been simmering alongside the filling.
  12. Cover with cheese and slide into the oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and started to brown.
  13. Sprinkle with some fresh herbs and carefully serve up two wraps per person. And dig in!
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Lasagne for Friends

I always love the idea of entertaining, but when it comes down to it, there never seems to be enough time -especially when your friends tell you that a Friday night after you’ve been working all week suits them best. Not to worry. There are different types of recipes and different ways of cooking for a reason. And it’s exactly why the Italians invented lasagne. It’s hearty, it’s filing, it’s great for sharing. It can be delicious if made well. Everyone has their own recipe. And, best of all, you can make it ahead and reheat it. Or even make the components ahead and make it up and bake it fresh. Add some garlic bread and a bowl of salad and you have the perfect supper for friends. You don’t even need any other courses because it’s so filling. (I had the ingredients to whip up some cheaty strawberry tarts, but no one wanted them!)

This was a pretty massive recipe which would feed 8 easily. 

  
You will need: 

1 brown onion

1 red pepper

2 small carrots

2 cloves garlic

1 small knob ginger 

2 tsp tomato purée 

2 rashers smoked bacon

750g steak or beef mince 

1 regular carton of mushrooms 

Lasagne sheets, dried or fresh, 1 needed about 10 dried sheets

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 jar passata

Chicken or beef stock

Glue red wine

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp mild chilli powder

Sprinkle sugar

1/2 tsp lemon juice

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar 

1 tsp dried oregano

5 or 6 leaves of fresh basil (or 1 tsp of dried)

A couple of pints of milk

A good knob of butter 

2 bay leaves 

A grating of nutmeg

Cheddar cheese, as much as you like

2 tbsp plain flour 

Seasoning 

(It’s a lot when you write it all down!)

  

1. Slice the onion and add to a large pot with a drizzle of heated olive or rapeseed oil. Allow to hear through, then add the chopped carrot and pepper. Continue cooking on a low to medium heat until the veg has started to soften.

  
2. Add the tomato purée, grated ginger and garlic, stir, and cook out for 10 minutes or so. 

3. In a separate pan, add a little oil and turn up high. Fry off the bacon, chop into small pieces and add to the pot. Brown the mince in small batches, to avoid crowding the pan and resulting in it boiling. Then add to the pot.

4. Add the cinnamon and stir through. Add the chopped tomatoes, passata, oregano, chilli powder, balsamic, sugar and lemon juice and stir. Add the stock. Loner beef stock pots are great for this as they stir in and melt away. If you don’t have one of those, regular beef or chicken stock can be poured it, or a cube dissolved in hot water in the tomato can. Just be careful not to add too much liquid at this stage. You can always add more once it has cooked down.

  

5. Put the lid on and allow to simmer for half an hour or so at a medium to low heat.

6. Finely slice the mushrooms and stir them in. Allow to cook out for another half hour or so.  Add the chopped basil just before you take it off the heat.

 

7. Meanwhile, if you’re putting this together straight away, you’ll want to make the bechamel sauce. Put a medium saucepan on a low heat and melt the butter in it. Put the flour in a mug or jug and add just enough cold water to cover it. Stir until evenly mixed and add to the butter. Be careful here as you want to stir it through without hearing it too quickly. Too much heat, too quickly and not enough stirring will give you a lumpy mess!

  
8. Once combined, gradually add the milk, a glug at a time, and stir stir stir into the floury butter mixture. Allow to slowly come to the boil to thicken, stirring all the while. Add more milk gradually and repeat until the sauce is the desired consistency. If you go too thin or if you don’t have enough at the right consistency, mix more flour with water, stir in and repeat the milk process. When you’re happy with the consistency, turn down the heat, season, add nutmeg and bay leaves and allow the flour to cook out. Stir fairly regularly. Set aside. 

  
9. Now you’re ready to layer. Grab a big rectangular or square casserole dish. Wet the lasagne sheets a little (3 at a time) and lay in the bottom. Add a thin layer of mince, then repeat (meat, pasta, meat, pasta) until you have either run out of mince or got to very near the top of the dish. 

  
You may want to break off small pieces to fill in any gaps.  

Keep going!

  
10. Once at the top, remove the bay leaves from the bechamel and spread over the top carefully so the sauce doesn’t merge too much with the mince. 

  
11. Top with grated cheese and bake in the oven at 180C fan for at least half an hour, but basically until the cheese is melted and golden and the sauce is bubbling at the sides.

 Serve with garlic bread, salad and lots of wine!