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These are not much trouble to make and they are a real treat.
Bacon rashers with their salty smoky tang are wrapped around each piece of chicken, adding flavour and keeping the chicken moist. They also hold the stuffing in place and bronze up beautifully as the chicken parcels cook.
Strong attention-seeking flavours in the stuffing don't need competition from side dishes. Keep these plain; baby new potatoes (or creamy mashed in winter) and your favourite greens, maybe beans or broccoli. But I think I like these best served with a green salad and a good bread. I have tried accompanying these chicken parcels with a variety of sauces but the creaminess of this sauce, enhanced with sharp lemon, complements the chicken well.
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (approximately 1kg), trimmed of excess fat
80g NZ dried apricots, chopped
½ a small onion, finely chopped
2 plump cloves of garlic, crushed
40g brown skinned almonds, roughly chopped
½ tsp ground cinnamon
3 Tbsp Cointreau, brandy or orange juice
½ cup day-old breadcrumbs
8 long rashers smoked streaky bacon
3-4 Tbsp lemon juice
Creamy lemon sauce
½ cup Greek style yoghurt
½ cup sour cream (I use light)
pinch cayenne pepper
zest of one lemon
1 Tbsp lemon juice
sea salt to taste
Line a shallow roasting dish or lipped oven tray with non-stick baking paper.
Combine the dried apricots, onion, garlic, almonds, cinnamon, Cointreau or brandy or orange juice and breadcrumbs. Toss together to mix well. This makes a crumbly stuffing.
To assemble: lay the chicken thighs flat with the inside of the thigh uppermost. Place a heaped tablespoon (about one eighth of the stuffing) on one half of the thigh. Fold the other half over the top to enclose the stuffing. Wrap a rasher of streaky bacon firmly around each prepared chicken parcel. Secure with toothpicks if you need to but I think they stay together very well without. Place, not touching, on the baking tray.
The chicken can be prepared to this stage up to 12 hours before cooking. Cover and refrigerate until needed. Bring to room temperature before commencing cooking.
Preheat the oven to 200degC.
Brush the lemon juice over the top and sides of the chicken parcels.
Place in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes until lightly golden and the juices run clear when chicken is skewered in the centre. To crisp up the bacon a little more, you can if you wish place the baking tray containing the chicken parcels under the grill for 2-3 minutes.
Remove from the oven and place the parcels on folded paper towels for a couple of minutes to absorb any excess liquid.
Serve accompanied with creamy lemon sauce
Creamy lemon sauce
Combine all the sauce ingredients and mix well. Tip into a serving bowl, cover and refrigerate until needed.