Included in the package were some recipe ideas. I wasn't quite sure what to make, when the fiance pointed to this one. Boy am I glad he did. It sounded complex but it really wasn't. On with the show.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1-1/4 lbs)
1/2 cup shredded fontina or mozzarella cheese (about 2 oz)
2 slices bacon, crisp-cooked and crumbled
2T finely chopped fresh basil leaves
1T olive oil
1/2 cup Italian dry bread crumbs
4 cups baby spinach leaves
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 jar Bertolli Four Cheese Rosa Sauce
8 oz fettuccine, cooked and drained
1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Make deep 1 inch long cut with knife parallel to cutting board, inside each chicken breast half to form pocket.
3. Combine cheese, bacon, and basil in small bowl.
4. Evenly stuff pockets with cheese mixture, then press edges together to seal.
5. Brush chicken with olive oil, then dip in bread crumbs, turning to coat.
6. Arrange chicken on baking sheet (which I covered with aluminum and sprayed with non-stick cooking spray).
7. Bake 20 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.
8. Meanwhile, cook spinach, water, and garlic in a skillet over medium high heat until spinach is wilted.
9. Stir in sauce and heat through.
10. To serve, arrange hot fettuccine on serving platter (or directly on plate as I did), then top with sauce mixture and chicken.
Now, as you see above, this recipe does not call for any extra seasoning, such as salt. This had me a bit concerned as I think everyone has had their share of bland chicken. I was not confident that the Italian seasoned bread crumbs would be sufficient in flavor to make up for the naturally devoid of flavor chicken breast.
Also, bacon. Yeah. I am some kind of a scientific anomaly, a rare human, one of only .0003% of people on earth who do not like bacon. I could happily live out the rest of my life without ever eating another piece. Also, I rarely eat meat anymore except for when I have company over. I gave in for this recipe with the chicken alone, the bacon was like a whole different level of sin! So I was really really tempted to leave the bacon out, but in the end I am SO Glad I kept it in. For one, surely the fiance would never speak to me again had he found out that this recipe called for bacon and I didn't use any. Secondly, I was still quite concerned with the lack of additional seasoning as I mention above.
As usual, we start with the bit players in this culinary production.
After turning on the oven to pre-heat, I started with the bacon.
Holy dirty stove Batman! Yikes. Sorry about that.
Then I went on to slice the pockets into the chicken breast. This really was not as hard as I thought it was going to be.
Hahaha half cup of cheese I mock you! Surely a HALF cup of cheese is never enough cheese! So as you see here I went a little over the recommended amount. It's in my DNA. I cannot help it.
That mix was then tossed together into a bowl,
and stuffed into the waiting chicken breasts. Even using almost twice the amount of cheese, I was able to stuff all of the filling into these breasts.
They were brushed with olive oil, doused with bread crumbs, and placed on the baking sheet.
Into the oven they went, while I went to work on the rest of the meal. I got the past in the boiling water and prepped the skillet for the sauce.
Speaking of the sauce, here it is in all it's glory. I am not usually a fan of any jarred pasta sauce outside of the regular tomato based ones. But as always, Bertolli did not let me down. I am telling you folks, if you see this on the shelf, BUY IT. You will not be disappointed.
Put the spinach, water, and garlic in the skillet and cook until just wilted.
Then you add the sauce. Cook until just heated through. If you like you can turn the heat off, or keep it on the lowest setting. At this point everything else is coming together so the sauce shouldn't have time to get cold either way.
Take the chicken breasts out of the oven.
Don't leave your windows open while cooking this unless you want the neighbors to come barging into your house demanding a plate.
I mean, look at these!
Arrange the pasta on a plate, and spoon some sauce over it.
Place one of the breasts over the pasta, and serve. Now this is a huge serving here, but I wanted to use this much to get a nice picture. I need not to have worried, as the fiance devoured this entire plate almost without interruption before sitting back with an expression of bliss on his face.
As I mentioned, I was very impressed with this sauce and would definitely buy it. It was not overly salty as some sauces tend to be. Also, the cheese and bacon add the perfect amount of salt to the breasts. Combined with the fresh flavor of the basil it adds a wonderful taste to the chicken while keeping it moist.