When you’re having company, what do you serve? Typically people fall into two camps: the make-it-easy-and-tasty-so-I-can-hang-out-with-my-guests style of meal, and the wow-factor-on-the-plate “this-is-a-company-meal” dish.
This recipe is a little bit of both. There is some work involved, but it can be done blessedly well in advance of dinnertime if you wish. Both the elegant look on the plate and the pizzazz on the palate are most definitely worth of a “company meal”. I miss this meal quite a bit since almost 100% of our chicken purchases are now whole chickens.
I splurged (? – compromised?) in December and bought split chicken breasts from the store. Visions of feces-matted caged chicken dancing in my head, I proceeded to debone and build the Puerto Rican Chicken meal I hadn’t had in over a year.
Folks…this was worth it!
The Step-by-Step Version:
First, set your scene. I like to wash my hands once for all raw chicken activity. Here is my baking dish, oil/vinegar mixture, spices (with spoons – important!), sliced cheese (I threw some cheddar in because I only had a little Monterey Jack left) and the bacon left over from breakfast (it pays to save 6 slices…). This is one recipe where it’s not just for looks when your kitchen acts like the Food Network.
Step one is to pound the chicken. If you don’t have a fancy mallet like this, use a rolling pin, a heavy glass bottle or jar, or a regular old hammer (clean!). I don’t like raw chicken spray, so I use wax paper on top, or if I’m really smart and eco-conscious, a waxed bag from cereal or crackers. Bang away until you get the chicken about as thin as it will go without shredding. Tip: Use the edge of the mallet to help tenderize and spread thin the meat.
Take your flattened chicken, either as you go or after you get your aggression out on all six of them, and sprinkle seasonings and add cheese. I do this in my hand because I’m about to roll it anyway.
Roll the chicken around the cheese as tightly as possible without tearing the meat, then wrap the bacon around the whole thing. Neatness is only for style points – my goal here is usually to cover any places the cheese might try to seep out as it melts.
Arrange in a dish and pour the vinegar/oil over top. I usually add a little extra, up to double, just so I ensure a nice, moist finished product. There’s no trick to the arranging, either. An 8×8 dish will do. This photo is obviously after baking, because I needed to get it in the oven quickly and forgot a “before” picture. Who needs to see more raw meat photos anyway?
Is anyone wondering who took my raw meat photos since my hands were clearly tied up? My 4-year-old son, a photographer in the making! He was still enough to use no flash and framed everything quite nicely, don’t you think? I’m impressed, but that’s my job as “mom”. (Funny aside: he got a kids’ digital camera for Christmas and takes pictures of everything, always twice. Snaps one, then turns the camera vertically and murmurs, “Ok, uh-huh, here we go…” and takes another. He likes to document toys, the whole family’s Christmas gifts up close, and every so often, a person. Think he ever watches anyone take pictures of inanimate objects?)
Print This Recipe
- 3 chicken breasts, cut in half
- 1 tsp. garlic salt (or garlic powder mixed w/sea salt)
- 1 tsp. onion salt (same as above works)
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 3 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, in 6 slices
- 6 slices bacon
- 2 tsp. vinegar
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- dash of pepper
- Pound chicken to flatten.
- Stir together garlic salt, onion salt, oregano and pepper.
- Sprinkle half of the seasoning mixture over the chicken.
- Place a slice of cheese on each chicken piece and roll up the chicken around the cheese.
- Sprinkle with remaining seasoning mix.
- Wrap each chicken roll with a strip of bacon.
- Place in a small, shallow baking dish.
- Stir together vinegar and oil.
- Pour over chicken.
- Bake in a 375-degree oven for 1 hour or until golden.
- Serves 3-4
The original recipe, which I received at my bridal shower, says to serve with avocado slices, fresh fruit and a salad. We pretty consistently served it with Vigo Black Beans and Rice, and now use my reverse engineered homemade version of Cuban Black Beans and Rice (Recipe available in The Everything Beans Book). (NEWLY UPDATED TODAY!)