This is one of those very fast and simple mid-week meals that looks and tastes like it took a lot of time and effort to create. It reminded me somewhat of chicken Kiev, but with a healthier fresher approach. Don’t be too mislead by the title, whilst there is enough garlic in the dish to make a subtle impact it’s by no means overpowering, especially as the garlic-breadcrumb mixture is first pan fried and then baked again on top of the chicken. The chicken can be prepared hours in advance and kept refrigerated and the crumb mixture can also be prepped ahead of time and then added to the chicken just before baking. If you have trouble sourcing taleggio cheese you can substitute with brie or any other soft cheese, although I think goat cheese would be too overpowering. This is total comfort food and is perfect accompanied with mashed potatoes and a salad. A great family meal for busy mid-week that you can get on the table in less than an hour from start to finish and unlike a lot of “quick” meals this one leaves you with minimal dishes and mess to clean up.
Ingredients – Serves 2 Adapted from Nigel Slater
2 chicken breasts, skin removed
⅓ cup finely chopped parsley
150g taleggio cheese, cut into strips
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
3 rashers smoked streaky bacon, finely chopped – I used speck
2 large handfuls fresh breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180C. Score the chicken breasts 3 – 4 times diagonally across the top to within 1-2cm of the bottom. Finely chop the parsley and cut the taleggio into strips. Roll the taleggio in the parsley and then stuff the cheese into the scored gaps in the chicken breasts. Rub the olive oil over the chicken and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the chicken on a shallow sided baking tray. I like to use a porcelain dish that I can take straight to the table – the chicken oozes out some cheese as it cooks and it’s nice to capture this in the pan it is served in. The chicken can be prepared up to this point in advance and kept covered in the fridge until you’re ready to bake. You will need to take it out of the fridge an hour beforehand to let it come to room temperature.
To make the crumb mixture, melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and bacon to the pan and cook for three minutes, or until the garlic and bacon are starting to brown. Add the breadcrumbs to the pan and cook for a further three minutes. Scatter the breadcrumb mix over the chicken breasts, patting them down lightly. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.