Monday, June 18, 2012

Crispy Baked Caprese Chicken with Bacon

I've moved from Wells, NV to Livingston, MT now, and here's my first post from my new home!

I received a Caprese Chicken with Bacon recipe from Taste of Home in an email, and it looked good enough to try. I thought it would be better with breaded chicken instead of plain, so I tried looking up an oven-baked recipe so that I wouldn't have to [try to] fry anything. I found a recipe for Crispy Baked Chicken on AllRecipes, so there we go!

I've been looking for fresh basil for years, but could never find it except in teeny tiny packages for too much money. I remember when I lived in Moab, UT for three months and I could get whole containers of basil for cheap! Finally, I found a 4oz container of basil for a few dollars at a grocery store here in Livingston. Enough basil to actually do something with! Hooray!

Crispy Baked Caprese Chicken with Bacon

For the Crispy Baked Chicken, I used most of what ingredients are called for in the original recipe, and added another.

1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp chili powder (omitted)
1/2 tsp oregano (I added more than 1/2 tsp)
a good number of shakes of garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper (forgotten omitted)
1 pound chicken breast, tenders, fryer cut up, etc..
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter, melted (I used margarine, and less)

Combine dry ingredients. Dip chicken in milk, then roll in the cornmeal mixture. Place on greased baking pan. Drizzle with butter and bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 50-55 minutes or until juices run clear (our chicken cooked a lot faster--about 30-35 minutes, maybe because they were tenders instead of breasts and less than a pound).


Tips: After I mixed up the cornmeal mixture, I dumped it onto a baking sheet which I found easier to use than a plate or a bowl. Also, you're supposed to pretty much drench the chicken with butter from what I read in the comments and judging on the picture--"drizzle" doesn't quite do it and only a few tablespoons isn't enough. It leaves most of the chicken looking "powdery", but it doesn't taste floury or bad at all. I may try it differently next time if I choose to try this again.

For the Caprese Chicken with Bacon, I simply assembled all of the ingredients together and warmed them up. The original recipe tells you how to prepare and cook it all together, whereas I cooked the chicken and bacon separately. Also, it called for sliced tomatoes and instead I drizzled tomato sauce on top because I don't like tomatoes. My recipe below will account for these changes:

8 bacon strips (or however much needed), cooked beforehand (go here to see how to bake bacon)
1 pound Crispy Baked Chicken
1/2 cup tomato sauce
Fresh basil leaves, as needed
5-6 1/4" thick slices of fresh mozzarella cheese, or as much needed

Spray a pan with cooking spray and arrange chicken. Drizzle with tomato sauce and then layer with basil leaves, bacon, and finally slices of mozzarella cheese. Return chicken to oven just long enough to melt the cheese.

Sadly, that's generic brand Spaghetti Sauce you see there instead of tomato sauce. Normally I'd use my own "home-made" Red Sauce, but we're still adjusting from the move and you have to do what you have to do sometimes to get by!
Crispy chicken drizzled with tomato sauce and layered with basil leaves.

Layered with cold bacon from the refrigerator (baked yesterday).

Layered with slices of fresh mozzarella cheese.

Question: What happens when you let your husband do the serving?
Answer: He doesn't think to take a picture of the pretty end product for the blog before it's all picked apart and half-eaten. 

I promise, if/when I make this again, I'll take a pretty photo and post it below. 

My husband and I thought that the smokey bacon added a great flavor to the dish and made it taste less pizza-ish. The garlic and oregano in the breading mix also added fabulous flavors mixed in with the basil and tomato sauce.


Update 7/4/2012: I tried this recipe again, and this time I poured melted butter over the chicken rather than just drizzled. It turned out golden and amazing. Also, I ended up using a pan that still had a bunch of grease left on it from making bacon earlier that day, so between the bacon grease and the butter the breaded "baked" chicken basically fried in the oven in all the wonderful grease. Tasted great, but certainly wasn't any better health-wise than just straight-up frying!