Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cheesy Bacon Chicken Breasts

Weeknight meals can be such a challenge, especially for us working moms.  It's so easy to throw a frozen pizza in the oven or just grab some takeout on the way home.  That always feels like cheating to me, though.  I have this strange compulsion (it's not strange to me but it may seem strange to others) to cook everything myself.  I often have to find a way to balance that with the time constraints of every day life.  This dish is fast, easy and satisfies my need to do things myself. 

I recently started using chicken from Springer Mountain Farms.  It has such a natural, clean, unadulterated chicken flavor.  I was completely floored the first time I used their chicken.  For this recipe, I used the boneless breasts.  Because they are thin, they cook really quickly.

You can use any kind of  bacon, but my preference is the thick sliced market bacon from Earth Fare, my favorite healthy supermarket.  They also offer an apple wood smoked version which I use on occasion.  To speed up your weeknight meal, I recommend having the bacon cooked in advance.  If you do that, make sure you save just a little of the bacon grease for cooking.

The cheese I've used here is Havarti.  It's light, creamy and melts very nicely.  It's mild flavor complements the other elements of the dish perfectly.  If you don't have Havarti, Provolone or Monterrey Jack would work just as well in this dish.

The remaining ingredients, banana pepper and red onion, really make this simple meal stand out.  I use red onions in just about everything and the banana pepper has a flavor that really comes through without overpowering that awesome chicken.

Here's what you need to impress your family with a takeout-free weeknight meal:

4 small chicken breasts
4 bacon slices
4 large slices of Havarti cheese
1 large banana pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 slice of red onion, finely chopped
Bacon grease
Sunflower oil
Jane's Krazy Mixed Up Salt

Start with your grease and oil.  Because I did not cook my bacon in advance, I used the bacon pan for the chicken.  I poured the majority of the grease from the pan, leaving the bottom covered with greasy bacon goo.  Yummy!  If you cook your bacon ahead of time, just save a couple of spoonfuls of the grease for the chicken.  I added just a little bit of the sunflower oil to dilute the bacon grease.

Seed and chop the fresh banana pepper, then dice your onion.  Add them to the pan and let them soften a bit in the grease.  Push them to the sides of the pan to continue cooking and place your chicken breasts in the center.  Season them with a little Jane's, then flip them and season the other side. 

Cook the chicken until it's just about done.  Then place half a piece of cheese on each breast.  Top that with a piece of bacon, then cover the bacon with the other half of the cheese slice.  Cover the pan until the cheese is completely melted.  When you plate the chicken breasts, scoop up the onions and peppers from the pan and put them on top.

Enjoy!  If you decide to try this one, I'd love to hear how it turns out.

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