Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pecan Stuffed Chicken Thighs

I got all fancy with my pictures tonight, adding parsley and whatnot.
Look at me go!
Anyone who knows me, knows I don't like chicken.  I still make it because chicken is good for you and my family likes it.  Blah blah blah...  Occasionally, just occasionally, I find a chicken meal that I like.  This was one of them.

I will stipulate this.  I had a terrible time actually putting together this meal.  Making the stuffing was easy - chop some vegetables, add pecans then cook in some oil.  It was the making of the "rolls" that was a pain.

This is another recipe that I adapted from Make Ahead Paleo and I was able to almost make it exactly as instructed.  The recipe called to cook the stuffing mix in coconut oil and to baste the finished chicken rolls in coconut oil, which I didn't do.  Instead I gave this meal a little more flavor by using some bacon grease in place of the coconut oil.  Mmmm... Bacon...

Cook the stuffing ingredients until the veggies are tender, let cool for a minute or two and you're ready to stuff your thighs.

Spread your thighs out and evenly distribute your stuffing.  The stuffing made way too much so I put the remaining stuffing mix into a pan and baked it with the chicken to serve.  Now here's the fun part.  Have your butchers twine already cut.  The picture in the cookbook showed one nice little string around each chicken roll.  Um... nope.  I cut one string for each of the 7 rolls that my 2 pounds of chicken thighs provided.  After I used those 7 strings on the first 2 pieces of chicken, I stopped and cut more.  2-3 strings per piece was more accurate.  Of course, once you start tying the chicken rolls, the stuffing starts coming out of the other end, so you have to be quick tying the string off.

Once you finish playing Houdini with the chicken, put it in a pan lightly sprayed with EVOO and then baste the chicken in melted bacon fat.  Mmmm... bacon...  Bake it for 25 minutes, then broil it for 5.  Broiling it gives it the nice brown color.

Verdict:  This is one chicken meal that I will gladly eat again.  Everyone in the family loved it.  I don't know if it was the bacon grease (which is totally Paleo, BTW), or the yummy stuffing ingredients, but the meal was a win.  This recipe is a keeper.

Serves 4

1 TBSP bacon fat
¾ cup chopped raw pecans
2 stalks celery, diced (about ½ cup)
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
3 medium carrots, diced (about ¾ cup)
¾ cup diced white or yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper (I skipped this)
Pinch of poultry seasoning

2 pounds boneless chicken thighs
Butcher’s twine

¼ cup bacon fat
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 1 TBSP bacon fat.  Add the remaining stuffing ingredients and stir to combine.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are just tender, about 5 minutes.  Set the skillet aside, and let the stuffing cool.
On a large plate (or cutting board), lay the chicken thighs flat.  Spoon about ¼ cup of the stuffing (more or less depending on the size of your thighs) into each chicken thigh.  Roll the thighs snugly over the stuffing and tie them with butcher’s twine.
Place the tied chicken thighs into 1-gallon freezer bags or a freezer container, being careful not to lose any of the filling, and freeze until needed.  SKIP THIS STEP IF BAKING IMMEDIATELY.

Thaw the chicken in the refrigerator overnight.
When ready to cook, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Place the chicken thighs in a greased 9”x13” baking dish.
Melt ¼ cup bacon fat and pour it evenly over the chicken thighs.
Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.
Bake the chicken for 25-35 minutes or until cooked through.  If desired, you can broil the chicken for the last 5 minutes to brown the tops further.

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