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!

 

Bolognaise filled pancakes topped with a creamy white sauce

The heat has finally broken in Cape Town, and made way for rolling mist from the sea and cloudy, cooler weather. It really is a great change, and I look forward to getting out and about in my veggie garden today. With the cooler weather (and on my beau’s insistence, with dessert in mind), I decided on pancakes filled with a basil bolognaise sauce, drizzled with a creamy white sauce and topped with white Gouda and parmesan for dinner. The end result-creamy, crispy and filling! This recipe gives 4 large portions (2 pancakes per portion).

This pancake recipe is also my gran’s recipe.  I remember calling her just after I went to varsity, short on money, and in dire need of some cinnamony reassurance.  This is the recipe she gave me, and I still have the same hand-written note pinned on my fridge today. This recipe gives 20 thin pancakes and 13-15 thick and thin pancakes (If used for filling, I make thick pancakes). I made 8 thick pancakes for the savoury filling and the rest I used for a cinnamon filling.

Pancakes:

2 1/2 cups water

2 eggs

30 ml white spirit vinegar

63 ml cooking or olive oil

2 cups flour, sifted

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 ml salt

Whisk all the wet ingredients together, before sifting in the dry ingredients.  Whisk everything together until there are no more lumps present.  Let the batter rest for 30 minutes before frying the pancakes in a non stick pan lightly coated with oil. Again, if I want to fill and bake the pancakes afterwards, I make thicker pancakes, but if I want to cover them with cinnamon sugar I make thin pancakes.  The pancake is ready to flip once all the sides have curled inward (about 5-8 minutes after pouring the batter). Flip over once, and allow to brown for another 2 minutes before removing from the pan. Set aside. If you are making cinnamon pancakes, cover them with sugar and cinnamon after removing from the pan. For the savoury pancakes, do not add any cinnamon or sugar. Reduce the crispiness by placing them on top of each other as the come out of the pan; this will help with the rolling later. Set aside.

Bolognaise sauce:

200-250 grams lean mince

1 brown onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tin tomato paste (70 grams)

1 can whole peeled tomatoes or cherry tomatoes (I use cherry)

5-6 leafs fresh basil, finely chopped

2-3 sprigs parsley, finely chopped

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup water

1 carrot, very finely grated

Heat a dash of olive oil in a large pot, and sauté the garlic and onions for 5-6 minutes .  Add the cumin and coriander and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Add the mince and brown for aproximately 8-10 minutes, before adding the tomato paste. Stir in, then add the carrot, canned tomato and water. Allow to simmer over a low temp for 30-40 minutes or until most of the fluid has reduced. Add the fresh herbs, stir through and simmer for another 5-10 minutes before removing it form the heat. Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

White sauce:

2-3 tablespoons butter

2 heaped tablespoons flour

1 1/2 cup milk

salt to taste

Melt the butter in a small pot over low heat. Add the flour, and stir in. I use a whisk to ensure a smooth roux (flour butter mix). Slowly stir in the milk whilst whisking, and allow to thicken for a couple of minutes. If the sauce is to thick, add another dash of milk.  I made a thick sauce for this recipe, because I did not want to cover the pancakes completely. Once thickened, set aside.

Assembly of pancakes:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Starting from the top of your pile of pancakes, add two to three tablespoons of the bolognaise sauce along the length of the pancake towards the edge. Lightly roll the pancake to ensure that the filling is in the middle. Place in a prepared baking dish. Do the same for the rest of the pancakes. Once all the pancakes are filled, and in the baking dish, drizzle with white sauce and cover with mozzarella or a hard white cheese such as Gouda and parmesan ( I used a combination of the latter). Place in the oven and bake until golden brown.

I served this with a small green salad. Although this recipe is labour intensive, it is delicious and absolutely worth the effort if you have time.  A perfect slow-food meal for the weekend if it is cold and rainy outside.