Nearly every evening before dinner, I go on a walk. My walks frequently take me past Cascade Falls, where I came up with the idea for this dish. The bacon-and-herb stuffing gives the chicken a mouthwatering smoky savor. The pan sauce—a quick reduction of vermouth—adds an extra taste fillip. It’s fine to have bacon on the Wine and Food Lover’s Diet. While I don’t advise eating several slices with your breakfast eggs, I do like to use a modest amount of nitrite-free bacon as a flavoring. The intensity of very smoky bacon goes a long way, so you don’t need much. I frequently cook chicken, as well as turkey, that has been pounded to a thickness of about ¼ inch. The cooking time of a flattened breast is half that of a regular breast. Plus, I can roll the flattened breasts around stuffings, an easy way to make an impressive presentation.
skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 5 ounces each)
Freshly ground pepper
slices nitrite-free bacon, cut crosswise into ¼-inch pieces
¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil or flat-leaf parsley
teaspoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
tablespoons olive oil
I clove garlic, very finely chopped
¼ cup dry vermouth
tablespoons crème fralche (optional)
1 Preheat the oven to 200°F. Place each breast half between sheets of plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet or rubber hammer, lightly pound the chicken to a uniform thickness of about ¼ inch. Lightly season both sides with salt and pepper. 2. In a skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until very lightly browned but not completely cooked and crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove to paper towels to drain. In a bowl, mix together the bacon, basil, 3 tablespoons parsley, 1 tablespoon of the oil, and garlic. Spoon the mixture onto the chicken breasts, dividing evenly. Roll the chicken around the filling and secure each roll with 2 wooden toothpicks. 3. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the remaining 1 tablespoon oil until it shimmers. Add the chicken rolls and cook, turning as needed, until each side is browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of each roll reads 160°F, about 12 minutes. Remove to a plate and keep warm in the oven while you make the sauce. 4. Add the shallot to the same skillet over medium heat and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the vermouth, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced to about 2 tablespoons, about 1 minute. Stir in the crème fraiche (if using). Season to taste with salt and pepper. 5. To serve, cut the chicken rolls crosswise into thick slices and arrange on 2 warmed plates. Drizzle each serving with the sauce and sprikle with the remaining 2 teaspoons parsley.