Apricot and Bacon Stuffed Chicken
This post is sponsored by Tabasco® and is the fifth of five dishes in the Tabasco 10 Ingredient Challenge. The views and opinions in the post are my own.
Most of the dishes I worked on for the 10 Ingredient Challenge were pretty easy to make. They had only a few steps and not too much prep. I decided to push myself a bit for the final dish and make something more challenging.
Enter the roulade. This is a classic French way to prepare meats where you pound them thin, stuff them, roll them up, cook them until they are perfectly done, slice and serve. As you might imagine, there are more than a few things that can go wrong, but I got lucky on this version.
The filling turned out really nice, the chicken didn’t unroll on me, and the dish wasn’t overcooked at all. Even though it’s kind of an annoying preperation, it’s a very show stopping dish.
Bacon Chicken Roulade
Yield: Serves 4.
4 medium chicken breasts, pounded thin
6 strips bacon, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
2 small tomatoes, chopped
2/3 cup dried apricot, chopped
2 teaspoons Tabasco hot sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
1) Add bacon to a large skillet over medium-low heat. Cook for a few minutes until fat renders out and bacon starts to turn crispy.
2) Add onions, tomato, and dried apricots. Stir together. If pan is dry, add a drizzle of oil and turn heat up to medium. Season filling with a Tabasco, salt and pepper. Let cook for 5 minutes so onions soften and tomatoes break down.
3) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut chicken breasts in half horizontally. Be careful not to cut all the way through them. They should be butterflied. Place chicken in between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound it until it's thin and an even thickness.
4) Divide filling between four pounded chicken breasts. Roll chicken breasts tightly and secure with butcher twine or a few skewers.
5) Add oil to a large skillet over medium high heat. Sear chicken, seam-side down, for about 4 minutes per side to brown them well.
6) Once all the chicken roulades are seared, transfer chicken to baking dish and bake at 350 F. until they reach 160 degrees F. in the thickest parts. Use a meat thermometer to make sure they are done. This will probably take about 20 minutes.
7) Let chicken rest for a few minutes and then slice each breast into coins. Serve with grains or a salad.
If you don’t have a good filling, it doesn’t really make sense to put it inside chicken. Since chicken can be a bit bland by itself, I think it helps to use a filling that brings a lot of flavor. Bacon is always a good start because it brings some saltiness and crunchiness to the filling. Obviously I also used a lot of Tabasco for heat, but the real secret ingredient is dried apricots.
The apricots will break down as the filling cooks and give it a subtle sweetness that makes the rolls very addictive.
To start the filling, add the bacon to a cold skillet and put it over medium heat. Let it cook slowly so the fat renders out and the bacon crisps. This will take about 10-15 minutes. If the pan ever looks very dry, feel free to add a drizzle of oil.
Once the bacon is starting to crisp up, add the onions, tomatoes, and dried apricots.
Let this all simmer together and season it with Tabasco and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook it until the tomatoes and onions start to soften and break down, about 6-8 minutes.
Once the filling is done, remove it from the heat and let it cool a bit. Now you can move on to making the roulades.
Making the Roulade
When you are buying chicken for these, don’t buy the huge chicken breasts. Each breast should be about 6-8 ounces. If you get the huge ones you’ll end up with ridiculously large rolls.
Carefully butterfly the chicken breasts horizontally, being careful not to cut all the way through the breasts. Then place them between two pieces of plastic and pound them until they are thin and even. It doesn’t have to be perfect and it’s okay if there are a few holes in the chicken, but try to keep it in one piece.
Once the chicken is pounded, divide the filling between the chicken. You can really stuff these guys. Some filling might fall off as they cook, but that’s okay. As you can see, I didn’t go light on the stuffing.
Next, work slowly and roll the chicken into a tight cigar shape. Use a few skewers or some butcher’s twine to secure the chicken. Once the chicken is cooked, it will hold its shape, but for now it needs some help or else it will just fall apart.
Cooking the Roulades
Cooking these suckers involves two steps: Searing and Roasting. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. so it’s ready to go. Add a large drizzle of oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat.
You might have to work in batches, but add the chicken pieces and try to sear them where the seam is on the roll. This will help the chicken hold it’s shape and seal in the filling. Sear the chicken for about 4 minutes per side. At this point the chicken is still basically raw on the inside but has some nice color on it.
For the second step, transfer the chicken pieces to a baking dish and bake them at 350 degrees until the chicken reaches 160 degrees F. in the thickest part.
I hesitate to even give a time estimate for this because it can vary widely. I can tell you that mine baked for 18 minutes to get to the right temperature, but you really shouldn’t try to make these without a good meat thermometer. A digital probe thermometer that you can leave in while the chicken cooks is your best best.
When these come out of the oven, let them rest for a few minutes and then slice them into thick coins.
These could work great as as sturdy appetizer, but Betsy and I made a great meal out of them by serving them with some red quinoa and a small side salad.
A bit advanced for sure, but if you’re feeling adventurous, they are super delicious and kind of fun to make. Just be careful as you work with the chicken that you keep your working space nice and clean to avoid bacteria issues.