Friday, April 26, 2013

Asparagus Wrapped in Chicken, Wrapped in Bacon

It's so very rare that I make a dish I love and get the recipe on here this quickly. But this shows how incredibly amazing this dinner was because here I am posting the recipe for a dish I made on Tuesday!

See Tuesday was my Dad's birthday.  He decided he didn't want to go out for dinner and since I needed to test a dessert recipe anyway, I thought I would go out to my parent's and treat my Mom and Dad.  I went to their local Wegmans after work with every intention of making a pasta primavera (which will get tested at some point this weekend) but once I picked up a beautiful pack of asparagus, I thought about bacon wrapped asparagus.  THEN (I guess my mind was in overdrive) I thought about a wonderful Rachel Ray dish I made YEARS ago where I wrapped the asparagus in chicken.  So then I thought, why not combine the two?  Wrap the asparagus in chicken and then wrap that in bacon!

This sounded way better, and of course more decadent, than my pasta dish, so I got the ingredients, drove to my parent's house, got busy and had this ready in under 45 minutes.  My mom even commented on how fast the meal came together. AND my mom even said it was the best dinner she's had in a long time!

So scroll below to see how I did it. And also check out Rachel's Recipe.  I didn't consult it once while cooking on Tuesday and yet my version came out almost the same, but with a few important additions.  Bacon being the best one!  Also, this is a pretty budget friendly dish, especially since asparagus is in season and cheap, so make this ASAP!

Ingredients: (makes 4 servings)
1 Bunch Fresh Asparagus, woody ends trimmed
2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
Kosher Salt
Lemon Pepper Seasoning
8 Thick Slices Havarti Cheese, plain or with dill (Sharp White Cheddar works as well)
4 Strips Thick Cut Bacon
Olive Oil
1 Small Onion or Large Shallot, chopped (about a 1/2 cup )
1 Clove Garlic, minced
1 tbsp Flour
1 Cup Chicken Stock
1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 tbsp Butter
1 tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon chopped Fresh Parsley (dried works too)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bring a large pot of water to a boil (make sure the pot's wide enough for your asparagus to fit).  Meanwhile fill a bowl with cold water and add 5-10 ice cubes as well. Once water is boiling, add about 2 tablespoons of salt and then add your trimmed asparagus.  Boil for about 2-3 minutes, and then using tongs, transfer asparagus into the ice bath.  Then, drain the asparagus and set aside.

Next prep the chicken by slicing each breast in half horizontally through the middle.  Then, after placing each breast between 2 pieces of saran, use a rolling pin to pound out each breast to about 1 inch thickness.  Arrange each breast flat on your cutting board. Lightly sprinkle each breast with lemon pepper seasoning and then place two thick slices of cheese right in the middle.  (In the picture you may note that my slices are pretty thin, and unfortunately the flavor got lost, so I would double the thickness)

Then place, 4-5 asparagus spears on the end of each breast, and gently, but tightly, roll each breast so that the asparagus and cheese are neatly tucked in the middle.  Then, sprinkle the outside with a bit more lemon pepper and wrap 1 piece of thick cut bacon around each breast.

Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet until almost smoking.  Then place each chicken bundle, SEAM SIDE DOWN in the pan.  Allow to cook until brown, about 5 minutes and then flip over to cook for 5 minutes on the other side.  You will know the bundle is ready to turn when it releases easily.  If it sticks to the pan when you try to turn, it's not ready yet! Do NOT try to force it, because your bundles may fall apart.

Once bundles have been seared on both sides, transfer to an over safe dish and place in your preheated oven to finish cooking (about 20 minutes).  Meanwhile, prepare your pan sauce in the same pan you cooked your chicken in.  Add another tablespoon of olive oil, then add the onions to the pan and saute for 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for a minute more.  Sprinkle flour over onion and garlic and cook for a few seconds and then add in your chicken stock, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Stir in the dijon mustard, bring to a simmer and allow to thicken slightly for a few minutes.  Once thick, remove from the heat, stir in butter, lemon juice, and parsley to finish.

To serve, remove chicken bundles from the oven.  Spoon about 2-3 tablespoons of sauce on each plate and top with a bundle.  For extra special presentation, slice bundles down the middle to showcase the beautiful center (as pictured above).  Also, roasted fingerling potatoes made a great side dish!  You can see those pictured below with the pork free bundle for my dad.


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