I have to tell you, being a grown up is not nearly as fun, liberating or glamorous as I anticipated it would be when I was 10. 10 year old Diane was going to grow up to be the next Celine Dion, live in a ridiculous mansion and have zero obligations. She would always have a bowl of raw cookie dough in the fridge for snacking and would have a massive pool in the backyard for her pet dolphin. Naps would be abolished. Not to disappoint my younger self, but I am decidedly NOT the next Celine Dion (that’s still Celine.) My house is not a mansion and I alone am responsible for all cooking, cleaning and laundry in my little corner of the world- but only after a full day of work. If I want some cookie dough, I’m going to have to buy the ingredients, pull out the mixer and make some. I get to do the dishes, too.
But, it’s not all bad. I’m married to a hunk of a man even more handsome than Zack Morris (10 year old Diane is thoroughly impressed.) Naps are now an infrequent but divine indulgence. While I still don’t have a pet dolphin, I do have the two sweetest kitty cats who have ever laid little jellybean toes on this earth. And, now I get to decide what we have for dinner. No more sloppy joes! Sorry, Mom. This caramelized onion, smoked gouda and bacon stuffed chicken is the kind of dinner that takes some of the sting out of being grown up.
Tender, juicy chicken breasts are stuffed with sweet, jammy caramelized onions, luscious smoked gouda cheese and bacon. It’s a decadent, delicious combination that will make it easy to clean your plate, per Mom’s orders. There are a few moving parts, between crisping the bacon, caramelizing the onions and shredding the cheese, but they’re all no brainers. If you caramelize the onions and crisp the bacon on the weekend, this would come together quickly on a weeknight. Or pour yourself a glass of wine and cook yourself a leisurely dinner. Go ahead and pour a second glass, too- you are a grown up after all.
Stay tuned tomorrow for some killer butter roasted potatoes to serve as a side with this chicken!
Caramelized Onion, Smoked Gouda and Bacon Stuffed Chicken Breasts
- 2 large sweet onions, such as Vidalia, halved then thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- 2 tsp fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp dry white wine
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- ½ cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese
- 6 slices bacon, cooked until crisp and finely chopped
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
Start by making caramelized onions*. These may be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Heat butter and 2 Tbsp olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, sugar and salt to pan. Allow to cook, stirring occasionally. After about 10 minutes, add 1 tsp thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and caramelized. Onions will require more attention as they near the end of cooking. Once brown bits start to stick to bottom of pan, add wine and scrape up brown bits. Entire process will take about 40 minutes. Once onions are done, remove from heat and place in small bowl.
While onions are caramelizing, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Season chicken breasts with kosher salt and pepper. Beginning at the thickest part of each chicken breast, use a paring knife cut a slit about 2 inches wide, taking care not to cut all the way through. Carefully use knife to deepen the pocket toward the top and bottom of the chicken breast, trying not to cut a hole all the way through. The idea is to maximize space for the filling while keeping the pocket neat enough to contain it. Place chicken breasts on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
Preheat oven to 350. Once onions are prepared, stuff chicken breasts. Add 1 Tbsp each onions, cheese and bacon to each chicken breast, working the filling all the way through the pocket, toward top and bottom of each piece. Top each chicken breast with 1 Tbsp smoked Gouda and remaining 1 tsp thyme.
Place chicken breasts in oven and bake about 30 minutes or until meat reaches 160 at thickest part. Remove chicken from oven. Preheat broiler. Drizzle remaining 1 Tbsp oil over chicken breasts and return to oven, under the broiler. Broil 1-2 minutes, until tops are golden brown. Some cheese will ooze out during cooking- just scoop it up and serve with the chicken.
Allow chicken to rest 5 minutes, then serve.
*This will make more caramelized onions than you need for this recipe, but why not make some extra while you’re at it. Store in the fridge and put on sandwiches, in omelets or, let’s be real, eat straight from the container.