I’ve already blathered on about the fact that Caprese Salad is one of my favourite things about Summer. Simple, good quality food with few ingredients – perfect!
I am always looking for new ideas for quick but tasty meals and chicken seems to be the basis for many of these meals. I decided to play around with a caprese salad using chicken and eventually came up with this Caprese Stuffed Chicken. It has become a favourite in my house. The cheese melts out of the chicken and contrasts with the sweet tomatoes and fresh basil. Wrapping the chicken in salty pancetta adds flavour and keeps the chicken moist.
Edited 8th August 2023 – I’ve recently started making a version of this in the air fryer without the bacon as per the photo below. I’ve added a piece to the bottom of the recipe to explain how to do this.
Useful tips & links:
- This is very filling so I use medium sized chicken breasts, approx 175g each. I have made it with bigger portions but it really was just too much by the time it was filled and wrapped with bacon.
- I like to wrap this in pancetta or bacon, because bacon is everything! And it keeps the chicken nice and moist. If you don’t want to do this, you can use breadcrumbs like in this Chicken Kiev recipe or leave the chicken uncoated like this Chicken Roulade with Chorizo and Manchego. If you are anxious about the filling spilling out use some cocktail sticks to secure it.
- You can make the chicken parcels ahead of time and keep them in the fridge to cook later. That means you can have this whole meal on the table in under 30 minutes.
- This chicken is quite filling so I would be more than happy to have this with just the side salad. However, I did serve this with the Orzo with Lemon and Parsley from Diana Henry’s Simple, but used less parmesan as there is enough cheese already. The lemon is a nice contrast to the richness of the Caprese Stuffed Chicken. There is a limited preview of the recipe here.
- Unusually for me, I have not made a sauce to go with this. I think there is enough going on and the tomatoes and olive oil in the salad add extra moisture. However Karen from Kenmare Foodies has a wonderful recipe for Baked Chicken Caprese with Pesto Cream Sauce if you would like to use a sauce.
- See also Tine’s Stuffed Pork Tenderloin for more inspiration.
Caprese Stuffed Chicken
- 2 chicken breasts
- 100g of fresh mozzarella
- 50g of sundried tomatoes, approx 8
- A small bunch of basil leaves
- 6-8 slices of pancetta or smoked streaky bacon
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- Prepare the chicken by pushing the mini fillet away from the breast but don’t remove it. Cut a deep pocket into the side of the fillet without cutting through the flesh completely.
- Season the inside of this pocket with a little salt and pepper. Arrange a layer of sundried tomatoes, about 4, then half of the mozzarella torn and then about 10 basil leaves.
- Pull the chicken back around the pocket and use the mini fillet to seal the side of the fillet. Don’t worry if there is a little gap, the bacon will hold the filling in.
- Lay the pancetta or bacon out beneath one another and place the chicken on top. Carefully wrap them around the chicken so that the whole breast is covered. Keep the chicken with the ‘seam’ side where the bacon meets down on a plate to hold the parcel together.
- You can store the chicken like this wrapped in cling film in the fridge or cook immediately.
- Preheat oven to 180c/160c fan/gas mark 4 and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium/high heat. If you like, you can use the oil from the sundried tomatoes.
- When the pan is hot add the chicken, seam side down and brown all over. The bacon will look almost fully cooked at this stage.
- Transfer the chicken to the baking tray and bake in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes. How long it take depends on how much you brown the meat and how big the chicken is. Mine was cooked in 10 minutes.
- Serve immediately with a simple side salad of leaves, tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil and a small amount of freshly grated parmesan.
Air fryer cooking method:
- I’ve been making this in the air fryer lately as I avoid turning on the oven if at all possible. You can prepare the chicken in exactly the same way as above, and cook directly in the air fryer.
- Alternatively, leave out the bacon and once you have stuffed the chicken, season the outside with salt, pepper and smoked paprika and drizzle over a little olive oil. Use toothpicks to roughly seal the edges of the chicken.
- Preheat your airfryer to 170c on a roast setting and cook for 12 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. I check once after about 5 minutes to make sure the chicken is not sticking and there isn’t too much cheese oozing out.
- When fully cooked, remove the toothpicks and serve as above.