This is easy to make and if you follow the resting steps of the herb paste/filling as well as the chicken you will have a dish that present layers of fresh and wonderful tastes.
Recipe provided by New Zealand Gluten-Free Chef Jimmy Boswell, food writer, chef, food stylist and author of The New Zealand Gluten-Free Cookbook, Published by Penguin New Zealand. For more info on Jimmy, visit his Facebook page.
– 4x 150 g boneless, skinless chicken breasts
– 4 garlic cloves crushed
– 16 fresh basil leaves
– 4 tblspns fresh thyme chopped
– 2 tblspns fresh oregano chopped
– 2 tblspns olive or coconut oil
– 1-2 large tomatoes thinly sliced
– Juice and rind from 1 lime or lemon
– 4 slices provolone cheese (provolone is a mozzarella-style cheese with a fuller flavour. Use mozzarella if you can’t get provolone)
– 12 slices streaky, chemical free bacon (In New Zealand I use Hendersons Bacon)
– 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
– 4 tblspns chopped Italian parsley
– Salt and fresh ground black pepper to season
HERB PASTE: I prepare the filling the day before so it can rest in the fridge to develop its flavour to the fullest. Using a mortar and pestle add the garlic, herbs, oil and season with salt and pepper. Grind the ingredients to a pulp. Once pulped transfer to a small container, cover and transfer to the fridge and store over night.
CHICKEN: In the morning wash and pat dry the chicken breasts and place them on a cutting board. With a sharp knife, slice a pocket in each chicken breast horizontally, without slicing them completely in half or opening the ends. I cut to about 1cm (1/2 inch) of the edges to create a nice pocket to take the filling.
Open the chicken breasts and season with salt and pepper inside the pocket and then on the outside of the chicken breasts. Add to a large resealable bag and add the lime juice and rind. Seal and shake well to cover all the chicken surface areas. Rest in fridge for at least 1 hour. I usually rest for 4-6 hours.
Remove the chicken and filling made the day before from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking to come to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C (400 degrees F). Remove the chicken breasts and sit on a chopping board. Place 2 or 3 tomato slices in each pocket and then spread 1 tspn of the herb filling across the tomato in each pocket. Spread 1 tblspn of fresh Italian parsley on top of the herb paste.
Top the tomatoes with 1 slice of cheese, and close the pocket and seal with about 3 toothpicks. Wrap 3 slices bacon around each chicken breast. Cook in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. Turn chicken, and cook for 15 minutes more.
Remove from oven, and sprinkle chicken with parmesan. Return to oven, and cook until cheese is melted, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove from oven, tent (cover) with foil and rest for 5-8 minutes before serving. Once rested and as you plate them up you can remove the toothpicks.
Serve the breasts with a fresh seasonal salad or for winter on a creamy sweet potato mash with your choice of seasonal fresh steamed vegetables.
Image / Jimmy Boswell