“AACK, you gave this vegan who also cannot tolerate garlic a heart attack?” ~ Jann Dolk
Rough list of ingredients:
— chicken breast: I go with one per person
— bacon: about two slices per breast but there’s nothing wrong with extra bacon
— butter and bacon grease: I love to add Newman’s Own garlic parm dressing but whatever seasoning you want to use that flows through the injector works
— garlic clove: as much as you want. I like garlic and roast a little extra to taste test
— staple seasoning: like salt and pepper, and whatever you want to use with chicken
I am spice sensitive so use what works for you.
Like many, my home environment is different than the “norm”. I have two roommates that happen to be family. I like to cook a homemade meal large enough to eat on for a couple of days. Sometimes I have no appetite for anything specific and try to come up with something I haven’t cooked or ate in a while.
What am I craving? What sounds good? I ask roommates if there’s something one of them are craving? Are there any suggestions of something good to eat?
While going through my usual suspects…a meal consisting of a meat, vegie, and carb, chicken popped in my head.
How can I cook chicken to make it yummy deliciousness?
Tonight’s idea was an injected, bacon wrapped chicken breast, topped with roasted garlic.
I found I have a lot of fun injecting meats. I do it often—pork, beef, poultry, it doesn’t matter. I did it once and got hooked. There’s something about drawing up a yummy sauce into a syringe, plunging the needle into my choice of meat, and filling it with juicy deliciousness. I started with a plastic injector that came with a bottle of Tony Chachere’s injectable marinade.
Now I have a fancy stainless steal seasoning injector added to my kitchen instruments.
The ingredients I inject into the chicken get put in a measuring cup and warmed slightly to blend together. For fans of spiciness, add some of your favorite hot sauce to the mix or make it a curry chicken. Keep in mind, the fluidity of the sauce needs to flow through the injector so it doesn’t get clogged. Personally, I have a 4 oz. Pyrex measuring glass that works well so I don’t need a third hand to angle the fluid to be sucked into the injector.
Preheat the oven to 375– depending on how much you’re cooking, how slow-cooked you want it to be, and oven temps vary. Inject your mix of liquid yumminess in the chicken breast and arrange them into a baking dish. Fair warning that sometimes the fluid squirts back out of the meat at you, the stove, up towards the ceiling, anywhere. When this happens I laugh and make a mental note to clean that spot on the wall.
Now comes another fun part, wrapping the breasts with bacon.
The first time I did a bacon wrap was on a pork loin and I had to use toothpicks to keep it together in the right places. After a couple times, I figured out how to not need toothpicks. It wasn’t as hard as I thought. Just remember, if you do use toothpicks to take them out before eating it.
I start with the meaty edge of the bacon up at one end and coil it around so that the meaty side is on top of the fatty side as I wrap it to the other end. A nice thing with bacon—other than it tasting so good– is that you can stretch or constrict so it fits around the meat the way you want.
After forming the bacon around the meat, place it back into the baking dish—single file, no overlapping– cover with foil or a lid and bake for about 30 minutes.
Also, I put in some sliced garlic cloves I wrapped in foil with a smidge of butter and bacon grease to roast.
When my alarm goes off, I check the temperature of the chicken. I want it to slow cook at last half way to soak up seasoning and stay juicy before taking the lid off to crisp the bacon and brown the chicken. As always, use personal preference. Do you like bacon crispy or limpy? Since the bottom isn’t going to crisp unless you flip it while cooking, the bottom will stay softer as the top crisps. You can flip the chicken over part way thru cooking but I find this difficult to keep the bacon in place and not splash myself with hot juices.
Chicken is recommended for an internal temp at the thickest part to be 165 degrees. How long this takes can be a guessing game depending on your oven, how many pounds you’re cooking, the thickness of cut, how much fluid was injected. I tend to overcook food thinking it needs another minute. This is one of my cooking weaknesses I am mindful about.
My mind goes into a bad math problem mode.
“If this many pounds of chicken takes this long to fully cook after injecting and bacon wrapping, with an oven that runs this hot or cold, when do I need to take the cover off so the bacon crisps and the chicken cooks thoroughly to a golden brown?”
Again, I set a timer to check it after another 30-ish minutes. Around this I work on whatever sides I’ve planned to go with it.
Playing music while cooking helps me with this and I’m a sucker for dancing in the kitchen. Not only is it more fun, it’s helps me stay in a flow with the process.
Once I figure it needs about another 30 minutes, I take the lid off and add some of the roasted garlic on top of the bacon. A little of the roasted garlic gets set to side for me to munch on and taste test.
Instead of roasting garlic, you can sauté some, or use onions instead. What works and sounds good to you? Maybe try something different like a caramelized apple. That would be an awesome garnish to the top if it was injected with a honey mix.
Sometimes I end up with a delicious dish that I hope I can duplicate.
After taking off the lid and adding whatever little extra—garlic, onions, mushrooms, cheese, apples– it goes back into the oven. While it’s cooking uncovered to crisp and brown, I turn the oven light on to periodically check it until the desired doneness. I don’t want anything to burn but I don’t want to keep opening the oven either.
I’m a cigarette smoker, so this can be a good time for me to take a break for one or check how side dishes are coming along.
I may need to adjust the oven temperature, or recover the dish if it gets too dry or crispy before thoroughly cooked. Maybe I goofed and it needs to cook a little longer or I need to add a little more fluid. With my fluidly way of cooking I often improvise.
After spending some time thinking through the process of how to make this delicious chicken, I’m excited to try it.
Good news! It came out delicious. If I can get my four-year old niece to eat something, like it, and ask for more; that’s saying something. My brother even fixed a to-go plate after trying it and my son wished there was more. Not only can I have fun cooking instead of it being a dreaded task, I can make good things.
Is it flavorful and easy to eat?
Does it look and smell appealing?
Do we get a sense of satisfying yummy deliciousness while eating it?
These are questions I ask myself and think about when I cook.
The bacon not only helped with the flavor, it helped hold the injected fluids in to keep it moist. Paired with a vegie and carb of choice for sides—mine this night being mac & cheese and steamed broccoli– made for a pretty nice dinner.
After decades of my cooking being shamed, it puts a smile on my face that I can enjoy and have fun cooking. And make something other people enjoy.
It’s fun to cook creatively without following box, list instructions, or having a prepped meal delivered. I hope this inspires you to turn up some music, dance in the kitchen, and create some good home cooked food—whatever it may be.