The first bite of my Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Thigh is sweet and peppery, smoky and meaty, but then you get to the cheesy spinach and artichoke hiding within. This one fires up all the taste buds.
Chicken thighs for dinner? Boring! But how about amping up the flavor a notch or two? Just think of it: If wrapping a meaty chicken thigh with smoky bacon wasn’t enough, then stuff it with spinach and artichoke and glaze it all with spicy pepper jelly. Oh yeah, now we’re talking.
There are a few keys to this dish. First, find meaty chicken thighs already boned. The removal of the bone makes for a perfect pocket to spoon in the stuffing. And be sure to remove any skin and excess fat since the bacon will do the job of adding fat and flavor. The stuffing is simple, but be sure to tighten it up with a bit of flour and chill it so that it will hold together for filling the chicken. And don’t overdo the cheese—just enough to smooth out the ingredients.
Pepper jelly is a distinctly Southern ingredient, and the supermarkets and farmer’s markets are full of options. And what it adds to grilled and broiled meats as a finishing glaze is spectacular.
Stuffed, wrapped, baked, broiled, and glazed, these Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Thighs are a tasty alternative to plain, ordinary chicken.
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ½ cup finely diced yellow onion
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 (8-ounce) bag fresh baby spinach leaves
- 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts packed in water, drained
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ cup grated Monterey jack cheese
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 tablespoon Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
- 4 strips smoked bacon
- ½ cup pepper jelly
- In a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat, add the butter. Saute the onion until it turns translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute.
- Add the spinach leaves and the artichoke hearts. Add a bit (4 tablespoons) of water to create steam and close the lid. Watch as the steam escapes and cook for 5 minutes until the liquid is gone.
- Open the lid and stir the mixture breaking the artichoke hearts down with the back of a spatula or fork.
- Sprinkle the flour over the mixture. Cook until the raw flour taste is removed, about 3 minutes.
- Add the cheese, cream, and season with white pepper, salt, and black pepper.
- Continue stirring until the mixture thickens to a stuffing consistency. Remove from the heat and refrigerate for 1 hour or until ready to use.
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
- Remove the chicken thighs to a cutting board and using a sharp paring knife, enlarge the pocket inside each thigh. Season the meat with a sprinkle of Cajun seasoning.
- Using a spoon (or your fingers) pack in the chilled stuffing.
- Close the flaps of the chicken and use toothpicks to hold in place.
- Wrap the bacon tightly around the meat.
- Place the chicken on a wire rack suspended over a baking tray, and move to the oven to bake for 40 minutes until the bacon is browned. Check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer; it should register 175ºF in the thickest part of the thigh meat.
- Remove the chicken and brush on the pepper jelly. Move the baking tray back to the upper rack of the oven and turn the temperature to broil. Watch carefully as the glaze sets and the bacon crisps, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Remove the chicken and serve with extra pepper jelly on the side.
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