Roasted chicken breasts on the bone stuffed with spinach, bacon and mozzarella

There are so many stuffed chicken recipes available and they all look delicious!  Of course, most of them require the chicken to be skinned and boneless (which is good), and covered with bread crumbs and deep fried or baked which is not so good, when you are trying to cut on the carbs.  This recipe should make any person that follows the LCHF (#banting) diet very happy, although I could not resist adding a creamy white mushroom sauce, which the more disciplined among us can leave out, of course.

There is something very comforting about the smell of slow roasted chicken permeating through the house. It reminds me of big family dinners and a warm kitchen and puts me in the mood to invite friends over and open a bottle of wine. It is, of course, also perfect when entertaining- the chicken can be prepared before hand, popped into the oven, and give you a good hour and a half of wine and chatting before serving up.

I decided to keep the chicken on the bone to add more flavour and prevent it from drying out, and made an incision above and along the bone to form a pocket for the stuffing. I served this with a creamy mushroom sauce, but the pan juices that cook out of the chicken is sufficient as a sauce on its own. For this recipe, I only used two chicken breasts but it can easily be increased for more portions.

Stuffing:

8-10 baby spinach leafs, finely chopped

3-4 chives, finely chopped

2 slices smoked shoulder bacon, finely chopped

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Melt the butter over moderate heat. Sauté the chives and bacon until done, and add the spinach. Sauté for another 3-4 minutes until the spinach is wilted. Remove from the heat, and add the grated mozzarella. Stir through, until every thing comes together (the cheese doesn’t have to melt completely, you just want everything to stick together). Add black pepper for taste.

Chicken:

2 large chicken breasts on the bone or 4 thighs on the bone

a dash of olive oil

1 tablespoon butter, cut into small blocks

3 small sprigs of thyme

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Make an incision above the bone along the length of the chicken breast to form a pocket. The same can be don for thighs which works just as well.

Remove any excess fat and skin.  Gently lift some of the remaining skin and insert 2 very small blocks of butter just below the skin as well as 2-3 thyme leafs. Insert a tablespoon of stuffing into the pocket, but without overfilling it.  Repeat for each chicken breast or thigh. Rub the top of the chicken with a drop of olive oil, add salt and pepper to taste and place in a prepared oven-proof dish that can be covered.  Cover the dish and place in the oven.  Bake covered for approximately 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, cover the chicken with any juices that has cooked out and bake uncovered for another 40 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.

Mushroom sauce:

125 grams white button mushrooms, sliced

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup double thick Greek yoghurt

Melt the butter over moderate heat before adding the mushrooms. Fry the mushroom until softened and add the yoghurt.  Stir for another 3-4 minutes until heated through and it starts to boil. Remove from the heat.

I served the chicken with cous cous but it can be served with only a green salad on the side, and will still make for a very fulfilling meal!

 

Spinach, basil and mushroom stir fry

Another one of my favourite blank-canvas recipes!  Anything goes with a stir fry, and this recipe encompasses all of my favourites-fresh, colourful and flavoursome.  I had some left-over steak that I used for this stir fry, but chicken or beef strips will work just as well, whilst keeping it meat-free might work even better.

Although I am incredibly privileged to life in South Africa with our vast, open space, beautiful beaches and stunning Mediterranean climate, I envy Europeans with their fresh food markets and abundance of fresh produce without ever having to visit a mall or retail outlet.  I am specifically remembering the Great Market Hall in Budapest today, where local producers sells the most amazing, colourful variety of fresh produce and a little outdoor market in Kiel, Germany, where you can buy home-made cheeses, juicy fresh berries, and home-baked German brotchen.

In South Africa, we have the Food Lover’s market, but this is just another retailer and is often based or associated with another shopping mall. We do have smaller farmer markets over weekends, and although you can buy food and craft-beer in abundance, it is not often that you can buy fresh fruit or veggies.  As an alternative, I have started growing my own veggies (tomatoes, spinach, basil,  coriander,chilli ect,) and I am very happy to announce that this is the first meal largely comprised from what grows in my own garden!

This recipe give 3 large portions:

8-10 medium sized spinach leaves, stems included, finely chopped

1 brown onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, julienne

1/2 red pepper, finely sliced

7-8 basil leaves, finely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh coriander, finely chopped

2-3 chillies, finely chopped (optional and to taste!)

2 tablespoons olive oil

5-6 button mushrooms, sliced

100-200 grams egg noodles, prepared according to packet instructions

2-3 tablespoons soya sauce (salty, so add to taste)

Left-over steak, chicken breast strip or meat of you choice if you wish to include meat. As mentioned earlier, I had 100 grams of left-over steak that I cut into thin strips and added at the end

Prepare you egg noodles according to instruction and set aside.  Heat oil in a pan over high heat, add the onion and fry for 5 minutes. Now add the carrot and allow to fry for another 5 minutes, before adding the spinach (yes, stems included if you use fresh, young spinach leaves!) and red pepper.  Stirfry for another 5 minutes, add the herbs and mushrooms and stir fry for another 5 minutes or until the veggies are al dente. I like to keep my veggies crisp and towards the fresher side.  I added my beef strips at the end to heat it through. Remove from heat.

In a separate pan heat 2 tablespoons olive oil, add the noodles and stirfry for 5 minutes. Add the soya sauce, mix through, stir fry another 5 minutes and remove from the heat. Serve the stir fry on a bed of noodles and enjoy!  A quick, easy and fresh dinner (that also makes good leftovers!).