This is another one of those ‘necessity-as mother-of-invention’ recipes, which all came together when I had chicken breasts, some streaky bacon, and a packet of ready-made stuffing that all needed to be used on the same day. It just all worked so well; the family was enchanted; it was easy to make, and virtually hands free once it went into the oven. I actually tried it out on some old friends who came for dinner, and got the same enthusiastic response. All those people can’t be wrong, can they?
- A shallow roasting tin big enough to hold all your chicken.
- A sharp filleting knife or similar
- 1 skinless chicken breast per person (This recipe can be expanded to virtually any number)
- 1 packet of thin rashers of streaky bacon (unsmoked) You’ll need 3-4 pieces for each chicken breast.
- 250g or so of Stuffing with parsley (either make your own, or use a good ready-made) Or try Muriel’s Perfect Stuffing! http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/muriels-perfect-stuffing/
- Oil, to drizzle. I use either Olive or Rapeseed oil.
- Drizzle a little oil over the roasting tray.
- Using the sharp knife, make a thin slit along the side of each chicken breast, to make a pocket which will hold the stuffing
- Place 3 or 4 of the rashers side by side and put the chicken breast on top.
- push the stuffing into the slit in the chicken, don’t worry if it spills a bit
- Now pull each rasher of bacon over the top of the chicken to make a neat parcel. Repeat with all the chicken, stuffing and bacon. Tuck the cut ends underneath the chicken parcel, it helps keep them neat while cooking.
- Place each parcel into the roasting tray as it’s finished
- At this stage, you can cover the whole dish with cling film, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. I think it helps them firm up nicely.
- When ready to cook, drizzle the parcels liberally with oil.
- Roast in a medium hot oven (about 180 Fan) for 35-45 minutes or so, baste occasionally. Test the thickest part of the parcel with a skewer, the juices should run clear. The bacon should be browned and crispy.
- Allow to relax for about 10 minutes in a warm place
- Slice each parcel on the diagonal into about 3-4 slices.
- I usually serve my creamy potatoes gratin http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/my-easy-peasy-potato-gratin-or-to-give-it-its-official-title-scalloped-cream-potatoes-with-rosemary-and-garlic/ with this, especially if I haven’t made gravy.
- I like a green vegetable such as French beans with garlicky butter to accompany it.
- I think that streaky rashers are the best for this recipe – Back bacon is just too ‘meaty’ somehow; the streaky bacon crisps up really nicely too.
- You can put these chicken breasts together up to 24 hours before you need them, just cover them with clingfilm or baking parchment, and keep them in the fridge until needed.
- For Dinner parties, I tend to keep the same basic recipe, but to ‘posh-up’ the ingredients, such as using Parma ham instead of bacon, and making my own stuffing, but people like the every-day version anyway.
- I had a few cooked parcels left over recently, and discovered that they make a terrific lunch or picnic dish if allowed to go cold, refrigerated, and then sliced – really tasty.