This dish was inspired by a favorite appetizer of mine, bacon-wrapped dates. I love the sweet and salty combination, and thought it would go well with chicken and cheese sauce. I also like the idea of bringing together international flavors (dates, Swiss cheese, Italian cheese) but using as many home grown ingredients as possible. The chicken is best served with a vegetable such as roasted asparagus or steamed broccoli, and rice, both of which would blend nicely with the cheese sauce if desired.
- Portion size 8 servings
- Credits : adriennenicole27
- 12 bacon
- 12 dates
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cup milk
- 1 cup grated Canadian-made Swiss Emmental cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 cup dry breadcrumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cups shredded Canadian Asiago cheese
MethodPreheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil, and lay out 6 pieces of bacon on it. Cut each date in half lengthwise, and then each half in 3 slices lengthwise. Place 12 date slices on each slice of bacon, spaced evenly, leaving a least a centimeter on each end. Lay a second slice of bacon on top of each of the bottom ones, with the dates in between. Cook bacon/dates in the middle of the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until it starts to crisp up. While the bacon is in the oven and then cooling, you can cook the sauce.
Heat an uncovered saucepan on medium-low and melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and stir constantly for approx 1 minute. Start adding milk by about 1/4 cup at a time, whisking as you go. Once all the milk is added, increase the heat to medium and keep stirring constantly until the sauce thickens considerably. Sauce should be able to pour off a spoon when you lift it up, but leave a thick coat. Add grated emmental and stir until completely melted and smooth. Set aside.
Slice each chicken breast almost in half, leaving the long end partially attached, like a hot dog bun. Cut the bacon/date layers in pieces to fit the inside of the chicken breasts, since length will vary according to the size of the chicken. Place pieces inside, and then place a tablespoon of sauce inside as well. Use toothpicks to secure the openings shut. Prepare a large casserole dish by using a non-stick spray on it or greasing it with butter/margarine.
Mix the breadcrumbs, salt, and asiago together in a large bowl. Put the olive oil in a separate large bowl. Take each chicken breast and coat it in the oil. Allow any excess to drip off. Then coat the chicken with the crumb mixture, and place it in the prepared casserole dish. Remove toothpicks.
Bake the chicken at 375 degrees Fahrenheit in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until meat thermometer reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Serve chicken with more emmental sauce on top, approximately 1/4-1/2 cup per serving, depending on personal preference. Tip: if desired, bacon/date layers can be cooked ahead of time and refrigerated.