I’m a firm believer that in order to have healthy and delicious meals, you don’t need fancy recipes, special ingredients or a lot of time. All you need are quality real foods and a few tricks in the kitchen for making amazing food in little time. Here’s a perfect example: a gourmet looking and tasting dish using only basic ingredients, barely any cooking skills, and as little as 15 minutes. Let’s do it!
My secret weapon in this recipe is the oven. The oven does all the cooking for me so I don’t have to stir, saute, sear or simmer anything. I hardly even have to use my knife. The time involved for you to get the food on the oven trays is only about 15 minutes. The oven will do the rest, and then you just put the food on the plates and eat!
Another secret you’ll learn about quick quality cooking is to be flexible with recipes using whatever ingredients you have available. You’ll get better at this in time, and for now, I will lay out plenty of options for you so you can get the idea.
Gourmet Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Ingredients
– Chicken thighs
– Mushrooms & Tomatoes, or other soft vegetables such as zucchini, eggplant or yellow squash (optional)
– Pumpkin, or sweet potato (optional)
– Leeks, or brown or red onions (optional)
– Stuffing for the chicken: pesto, salsa, chutney, mustard, asparagus, capsicum (bell pepper), raw cheese, pine nuts, chilli, seasonings, fresh or dried herbs, etc. (optional)
– Flavourings: sea salt, pepper, lemon juice, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, ginger, dried or fresh thyme, sage, oregano, parsely, paprika, turmeric, curry powder, lemongrass, chilli, butter, ghee, chicken stock, etc. (optional)
As you can see, besides the chicken and bacon, the ingredients can vary widely. Just use what you have in your fridge and pantry!
You can stuff the chicken, but you don’t have to. You can add soft vegetables to the baking tray with the chicken, or not. You can add as much or little as you like and swap out or omit different vegetables and seasonings and sauces.
So really, you can make this dish 10 different ways, without one single fancy recipe.
Gourmet Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Recipe
Step 1: Preheat oven to 180C (350F). If you want to ‘stuff’ the chicken with some of the stuffing options above (or something else), lay the chicken thighs open on your baking tray, put some stuffing on each thigh and fold over the thighs to make little parcels.
Step 2: Wrap each thigh in a thick piece of bacon.
Step 3: Chop or dice your mushrooms and tomatoes, or other soft veggies, and scatter around the chicken.
Step 4: Cut the pumpkin (or sweet potato) into slices or larges wedges and lay in a single layer on another oven tray. No need to peel the pumpkin (but remove the seeds). If you want leeks or onion, slice them and scatter around the pumpkin, and around the chicken if desired.
Step 5: Add any desired seasonings from the ‘flavourings’ list above, or anything else you want to use. Some flavourings, such as fresh herbs, lemon and olive oil can be added now AND/OR after cooking.
Step 6: Put both trays in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes. The pumpkin is done when a fork or knife goes through it easily. The chicken is done when you prick it with a sharp knife and the juices come out clear (not pink).
While the oven does all the cooking, you have time to help your kids with their bath or homework, take a shower and unwind from work, or do a 20 minute meditation or yoga session in the living room!
Loving the Leftovers
You’ll notice I didn’t use amounts in the ingredients, but I recommend you always make enough to completely fill the oven trays. This way, you only have to do the prep once and use the oven once, but you will have plenty of food leftover for a couple more meals the next day. Here are 3 completely different ways to enjoy leftovers from this one meal.
1/ This meal is great cold the next day as a scrap salad. Just chop everything up and mix it together to pack for your lunch. You can drizzle over some olive oil and vinegar too and add lettuce greens or baby spinach if you like.
2/ Another leftovers variation is to mash up the pumpkin and serve the bacon and chicken on top. Reheat everything in a little pan or under the grill first. Yum!
3/ Lastly, you can heat up the oven-roasted pumpkin and leek with some chicken stock, then blend it all to make a delicious soup. Chop the meats and veggies and put into the soup.
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