December 13, 2011

Bacon Wrapped Chicken in Mushroom Sauce

Most nights I try to make meals that are somewhat healthy with fresh veggies and cooking techniques that eliminate a majority of oils and fats, but sometimes I just want something decadent. Last night was a self-indulging night. Chicken stuffed with cream cheese and chives, wrapped in bacon and smothered in a creamy mushroom sauce.


I decided to wing dinner last night. I knew what I wanted the end product to be, but without a recipe, improvisation ruled the kitchen. I pulled out everything I needed: cream cheese, chicken, mushrooms, onion, bacon, etc... and dove in.

Starting out I mixed dried chives and roughly chopped onion in with the cream cheese and set it on the stove to melt a bit while the oven was preheating. For some reason my cream cheese wasn't very creamy, more dry and crumbly then I am used to, but I figured that it would smooth out once it was warmed up. It tasted the way it should, but didn't have quite the right texture (yet?).

Next I mixed up the sauce to pour on top of the chicken. I wanted it to have mushrooms, but not over power the dish with the taste so I used cream of chicken soup as a base and mixed in sour cream, minced garlic, fresh chopped mushrooms and onions. A very small dash of salt with a generous helping of black pepper and paprika finished off the sauce. I set that bowl aside and turn my attention to the chicken.

Making a dish like this I would usually pound the chicken flat and roll the filing in. Since I don't have a rolling pin at home, nor was I drinking wine (I usually use an empty wine bottle for a pounder), I opted to open them up in half by butterflying the breasts. Once that was done I seasoned the breasts with a little pepper.

Back to my cream cheese mixture. Although being on the stove did soften the mixture, the texture was still a little bit dry and crumbly. I didn't want to add any milk because I was afraid once it went in the oven, it would ooze out too much. So I went with what I had. The mixture was soft enough to smooth generously on each chicken breast and rolled them up. Next I wrapped each chicken roll with 3 slices of bacon.


After wrapping the chicken with bacon, one would think to just put it in the oven to bake. DO NOT DO THIS! Bacon should always be browned before putting in the oven. Actually, most meat should be seared before putting in the oven to seal in juices, but I'm sure most people (including myself) do not do this on a regular basis. Chef Ramsey would be so disappointed...

I heat up a frying pan and place each wrapped chicken breast in to sear and brown the bacon. Another advantage of this is that it removes some of the bacon grease before baking, the dish will be rich enough without adding more bacon grease to the mix. Once my bacon is sufficiently browned and slightly firm to the touch, I transfer each piece into a baking dish and add the sauce. Another dusting of paprika and black pepper and it is into the oven!


About 45 min later I decide that everything is cooked and ready to be served. Here is another perk of searing chicken before baking - it keeps the meat from drying out, even if it is baked for an extended period of time. The sauce also helps with keeping the chicken moist. I pull the baking dish out and am happy with how everything looks. The sauce stayed together and the chicken, from what I can see, looks perfect.

I pull out one of the breasts and slice it in half and I was right, the chicken is perfect. The cream cheese looks OK, but tasting it will be the real test.


I wish I could say that this dinner was divine and everything I had hoped for, but I would be lying. It was OK. It tasted good and the flavors worked, but as I ate I started thinking of all the things I would do differently next time. It was rich and I was very happy I made a salad to go with dinner. I'm sure my heart thanked me for only taking 1/2 of one of the chicken breasts and not finishing it. That is really all I can say - it was just OK.


This dish will need a major overhaul for the next time I make it. Here are a few of the changes I will make:
  • Use way less cream cheese on the inside.
  • Put crumbled bacon in the cream cheese mixture and as a sprinkle on top of the sauce after chicken is baked.
  • Will not wrap bacon around the chicken.
  • Bake the chicken with the cream cheese mixture and add sauce on top when dish is served.
  • Use only 1/2 the can of cream of chicken with 1/2 a cup of sour cream and cook in a saucepan on the stove to serve over the chicken at the end.
  • Buy a bottle of wine to pound the chicken with (and to enjoy of course).
I think the changes will make the dish less rich but more flavorful - it will also cut down on the heart-attack calorie count. The bacon got lost with all the other flavors and even with the sear ended up too mushy for me, so by cooking the bacon first and adding it to the cream cheese it should retain its tastiness. The sauce was good, but needed to be made separate from the chicken. This will allow for the mushrooms to play a larger role in the final dish.

Learning is a constant thing in the kitchen and last nights dinner was no exception. I know what I need to do to make the dish better, and I will absolutely be making it again with the changes. Live and learn. :)

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