Friday, March 13, 2015

Apéritif Friday - Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Chicken Breasts and White Cosmos

Hallelujah! The sun is out, doing it's job like a boss on the mounds of snow and frozen ground. I dug a path out to the gas grill this week so we could prepare weekday food our favorite way.

We grilled every night but one, and that was pizza night. Miller's annoyed though, because due to the piles of snow lingering on the deck, he has to watch us from inside the house. By tonight the rest should be gone so he can join us out there and drool all over us thanks to the smells emanating from the beautiful hunk of steel in the corner.

I didn't intend to post this one, but thanks to several comments on social media, over text and in person, I decided to give you all what you want - the recipe for Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Chicken Breasts, which were basted with Sriracha Garlic BBQ sauce.
These gems were TO DIE FOR! The flavors worked together in harmony and created the perfect balance of savory and sweet. The prep time took about 15 minutes, and the cooking time about 40-45. So in an hour, you can have all your people raving and the dog's drool reaching impressive new heights.

First - you definitely need an Apéritif while grilling. I'm a little ashamed to say that we consumed alcoholic beverages nearly every night this week. When you go from freezing to beautiful 55 degree sunshine, it feels like mother nature is a big tease and she'll snap you back to freezing before you can shout "Nostrovia!" We sat like hillbillies in our driveway to soak in the sun a few nights just because it was there. And while I didn't drink the White Cosmo this week, I give it two thumbs up. So do the girlfriends, because this was one of two signature drinks I made back in February on our weekend getaway. 
They were divided - some enjoyed this one the most, and others voted for the Stoli Dolis. I like them both. If you prefer a slightly sweeter vs. bitter drink, then give this a try. It's still well balanced, and very drinkable, so consume with care. I closed winter out Up North a few weeks ago with one last White Cosmo while we played a game with the kids.
Smart Ass is a really fun trivia game that is suitable for all ages and moves quickly. Mr. Musky and I love playing trivia pursuit, but the kids get bored after about 1/2 hour. This game keeps us all interested, enough for two rounds.

I hope everyone is loving the warm up as much as we are. What's on your grill?

White Cosmo (inspiration from Bonefish Grill)
3-4 Frozen Cranberries
1.5 oz Berry or Cranberry Flavored Vodka
1/2 oz St. Germain Edlerflower Liqueur
1/2 oz Cointreau
1 oz Lime Juice
1 oz White Cranberry Juice - difficult to find in IL grocery stores. You can substitute regular cranberry juice, but your finished drink will be red in color. If you use pure cranberry juice (unsweetened and without other juice blends), you may need to use some honey simple syrup to sweeten the drink and balance out the acidity.

Mix the liquid ingredients vigorously in a cocktail shaker filled with ice for a minute. Pour into a martini glass and garnish with the frozen cranberries.

Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Sriracha Garlic BBQ Sauce

6 organic, hormone free, boneless skinless chicken breasts
6 slices good quality provolone cheese
6 jalapeno peppers, deseeded and sliced in half lengthwise
16 pieces bacon, nitrite and nitrate free
Kitchen twine
1/2 cup sriracha garlic bbq sauce

Butterfly the chicken breasts: with a very sharp knife, carefully slice the breasts in half being careful not to slice all the way through, and open the breast like a book into the shape of a butterfly. Place a piece of provolone cheese in the center of the chicken breast. Lay the jalapeño peppers on top of the provolone and carefully roll the the breast up into the shape of a tube. Wrap the chicken with two pieces of bacon and place aside. Repeat with the other breasts. I recommend tying the bacon in place with a couple of pieces of kitchen twine. We didn't do this, and remarked later that it would have helped to keep the bacon wrapped around the chicken.

Place the stuffed chicken rolls on a preheated 350 degree grill over direct heat. Turn the chicken to brown the bacon, then place them in an aluminum grilling pan over indirect heat. Bush them liberally with sauce and continue grilling over indirect heat until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees, reapplying sauce every 10-15 minutes. Cooking time will depend on the thickness of your butterflied chicken; ours took approximately 45 minutes. We served these with roasted sweet potatoes (also grilled), and a crispy spinach / romaine salad with blue cheese, strawberries, apples and grapes tossed in a homemade balsamic vinaigrette. I highly recommend those sides with the chicken. The lightness of the salad balanced the hearty protein and the caramelization of the sweet potato perfectly counterpointed the spicy zip of the sauce.

We used Trader Joe's Sriracha and Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce. If you have a TJs close to you - buy this. I promise you'll love it.
But if not, you can easily combine these ingredients to make your own tasty sauce. Start with 1/2 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce, add a tablespoon of sriracha, microplane a garlic clove into it, and taste. Add more of whatever kicks your heels up. And if it's too spicy, add honey.



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