Sunday, August 1, 2010

Bacon Backpack Chicken and gravy

In honor of my new kitchen inside my new apartment I decided to cook an extravagant meal for my lady friends.  I took a trip to the Healthy Butcher to see what I could get for the best deal.  After browsing the entire store I decided a whole chicken was how I was going to get the most bang for my buck.  I purchased a 3 lb organic Ontario chicken for 13 bucks then picked up some organic bacon and was good to go.  It had been a while since I had bought a whole chicken but the more I thought about it the more I realized how brilliant it is.  Not only did I have plenty for my lady-night dinner, but I had enough meat to last a week's worth of salads and another week worth of home-made chicken soup.  Needless to say I was really excited!

So onto the marriage of bacon and chicken...It was a recipe I had dreamed of really and something inspired by my bacon-loving partner.  and it is what I now call "Bacon Backpack Chicken"

Bacon Backpack Chicken

- 1 Whole Chicken
- Some butcher string (or even dental floss as my mother suggested)
- 4-8 slices of bacon (depending on the size of the strips and of the chicken, you want enough to cover one side of the chicken)
- 2 tablespoons butter
-  salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
- 2-4 carrots chopped
- 2 cups of beef broth
- paprika to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried sage

- 1-2 onions
- Extra veggies you may have in your fridge...some potatoes or tomatoes (these will go underneath the chicken!)

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. 
2. Rub the chicken with butter and a mixture of the spices on the inside and the outside.
3. Chop up the carrots and onion and put them inside the cavity of the chicken as stuffing.  Try not to over stuff, the inside should be full but not exploding.
4. Put the extra veggies (carrots/onion/potatoes/tomatoes) in the baking dish along with the two cups of beef broth (for the broth I bought Beef Bouillon cubes, broght two cups of water to a boil and then added it into the baking dish)
5. Place the chicken on top of the veggies and the broth in the dish so that breasts are facing up.
6. Place the strips of bacon so that they cover the whole top of the chicken and are draped around its sides.  sprinkle with some extra paprika for added smokey flavor.
7. Bake at 450 F for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350F and cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes.  If you have a baster then bast the chicken aver 30 minutes or so...if you don't then just spoon the juice around but try not to burn your hand!  Or you can skip it...the chicken will taste amazing no matter what. 
8. Once the internal temperature has reached 180 F when taken from the thickest part of the thigh...or you cut into the thickest part and it is cooked through then remove the bacon and set aside.  Place the chicken back in the oven at 450F for another 15 minutes or so in order to get the skin nice and crispy.
9.  Remove the chicken from the oven onto a serving platter to cool. 

Bacon Backpack Chicken Gravy:

- the Juices and broth that cooked the chicken
- 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch
1. Pour the leftover broth into a small sauce pan.
2. Add a tablespoon of cornstarch and bring to a boil.
3. reduce the heat and allow to simmer for several minutes until the liquid has thickened up a bit.
4. Turn the heat off and pour into a side dish for the chicken.

A couple of things to remember are:
- Do not eat the stuffing inside the chicken...instead set it aside and use again when making your chicken stock.
- Save the bones from the chicken for stock
- The gravy will be sooo good I promise, it is worth the extra step at the end!

This was definitely a crowd pleaser--we ate and ate until we could eat no longer...and then we enjoyed my seasonal Peach cobbler...

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