Smoked Bacon And Ricotta Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Smoked Bacon And Ricotta Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts

It looks as though bacon will always rule as king of the breakfast meats. Interesting enough, we don’t reach for bacon near enough to add great flavor and fat to other meals, like lunch or dinner. The addition of bacon to other dishes can be a good way to enjoy its smoked flavor.

Charcuterie - The Craft of Salting, Smoking & CuringDo you know the process of smoking bacon?

Chef Jeff Raycroft explains that homemade smoked bacon is a simple process. Jeff says the bacon should be hot smoked in a smoker that has reached an internal temperature of at least 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

When the smoker is ready, the bacon should be hung or placed on racks and smoked until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Afterward being smoked, the meat needs to be cooled and sliced.

If using charcoal in your smoker, add soaked wood chips directly on top of the charcoal then a water bath added above that to keep humidity up in the smoker which stops the meat from being dried out.

Chef Raycroft recommends the book, “Charcuterie – The Craft of Salting, Smoking & Curing” buy Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn. Link here to have a look inside the book.

Our featured recipe is Smoked Bacon And Ricotta Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts, and here is what you will need.

stuffing ingredients for chicken breasts2 tablespoons olive oil
4 6-oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons crumbled cooked smoked bacon – 1 slice of bacon = 1 tablespoon crumbled, cooked bacon
6 basil leaves, rolled and thinly sliced
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup balsamic vinegar

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

butterfly cut chicken breast seasoned Butterfly the chicken by running a sharp knife horizontally through the thickest part of each breast. Place one hand on top of the breast to stabilize while holding the knife parallel to the work surface while cutting. Do not cut all the way through.

preparing stuffed chicken breastsOpen the breast so both halves can lie flat. Season the exposed surface with salt and pepper, then add 1/4 of the ricotta cheese, crumbled smoked bacon, and sliced basil leaves to each breast.

Fold the breasts in half so the cheese mixture is surrounded by chicken breast on the bottom, back and top. Secure with long wooden toothpicks, if desired.

pan searing stuffed chicken breastsHeat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large oven-safe skillet. Once hot, add the stuffed chicken breasts to the pan to sear.

Once browned on the bottom, carefully turn each breast over and repeat on the other side. Season top and bottom with salt and pepper, if desired, during this process.

Place skillet in preheated oven and cook until an instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees when inserted, approximately 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover until ready to serve.

Smoked Bacon And Ricotta Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts - close upA few minutes before removing the chicken from the oven, start making the balsamic glaze. Heat balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat.

Stir while heating until the vinegar is reduced to about 1/3 of its original volume. It will form a thick, syrupy consistency when it is ready.

To serve, place a stuffed chicken breast on each plate and drizzle with balsamic glaze. Pairs well with a mixed green salad or roasted vegetables.

Here are some ideas for roasted vegetables:

  1. Roasted Sweet Potatoes And Figs
  2. Citrus Herb Roasted Vegetables
  3. Excite Your Palate with Spice Roasted Vegetables

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Flatbread with Zucchini Smoked Bacon and Mascarpone Cheese

fresh from the oven Flatbread with Zucchini Smoked Bacon and Mascarpone CheeseThe recipe we are featuring is made with a smoked bacon, a “Apple-Bourbon Smoked Bacon” to be exact. Yummy!!

Have you ever thought how flavors are smoked into the bacon? According to Bacon Wikia, smoked bacon is prepared using different types of wood chips or sawdust for different flavors, such as applewood gives the bacon a mild, fruity flavor. Oak and hickory wood produces a stronger, heartier flavor.

The apple-bourbon smoked bacon is made with applewood sawdust, bourbon whiskey, and brown sugar or coconut palm sugar.

smoking bacon

Photo Credit: Bacon Wikia

Turning our attention to Bacon Wikia again, they explain how you can smoke bacon at home, and I would say it is similar on a grander scale at a smoke house.

They say, “We like to cold-smoke the meat at a low temperature over a long period of time. This ensures that you get the maximum smoke penetration and gives you a rich color on the meat. Try to keep the temperature of the smoker between 80F and 100F. When you start going above this the surface of the meat will start to seal and the smoke will no longer penetrate the meat. Smoke the meat for about 8 hours, or until you are happy with the color” (BaconWiki).

Now for our featured recipe: FlatBread with Zucchini Smoked Bacon and Mascarpone Cheese. We got our inspiration from a recipe we pinned to our Vegetable Recipe Ideas board on Pinterest (Link here to view our boards – Delectable Foods on Pinterest). But we made modifications to fit our taste. The original recipe does not include bacon, and requires a smoked paprika which we omitted. The original recipe requires to make a flatbread from scratch, but to save time we bought a ready made whole wheat flatbread from the Whole Foods Market.

Here is what you will need.

2 whole wheat flatbreads, roughly 7 3/4 inches X 10 1/4 inches

5 ounces mascarpone cheese

2 small shallot, finely minced

2 small zucchini, washed and patted dry

1/2 pound apple-bourbon smoked bacon

extra virgin olive oil

parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees

prepared uncooked Flatbread with Zucchini Smoked Bacon and Mascarpone CheeseCook bacon in a large ceramic coated skillet over medium heat. Cook bacon only until half done, about 3 to 4 minutes. remove from heat, and let cool. Using a knife or kitchen shears cut bacon into 1 inch slices.

In a medium bowl, mix the minced shallots with the mascarpone cheese. Place the flatbread on a cookie sheet, and spread the cheese mixture over the top of the bread, trying to get every square inch of the bread surface.

Next using a vegetable peeler, scatter ribbons over the top of the cheese mixture, covering the entire area. Next divide the cut bacon over the top of each flatbread.

Lightly drizzle with some olive oil, and  grate some parmesan cheese over the top. Grate as much or as little as you want.prepared uncooked close up of Flatbread with Flatbread with Zucchini Smoked Bacon and Mascarpone CheesePut the cookie sheet in the heated oven, and bake for 10 – 12 minutes, or until golden brown.

Flatbread with Zucchini Smoked Bacon and Mascarpone CheeseRemove from the oven, and let cool for 3 minutes. Move flatbreads to a cutting board, and using a pizza slicer, slice each flatbread into 4 equal pieces. Plate and serve. The preparation will serve 2 to 4 persons. Just double the recipe to make more servings.

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