It was the “dog days” of summer–July 4th holiday–and my father, mother, and I were “camping” (camping, for my mother’s sensitivities, was spending all day at a campground while taking turns sleeping on a late night drive home) in the Sierras of California. After a day of adventuring the mountains; hiking, playing, and my parents–true 70’s era Californians–stopping from time to time to smoke a joint, we’ve now stopped for a meal. The sun is beginning its downward descent into the West and my father starts the campground grill–a funny metal box on a pole, with a grate propped up within. Once the charcoal begins to turn ashy white, he produces a small cast iron skillet and places it on the grate. He asks me to get the hot dogs and garlic salt; I obey.
He places the hot dogs, one by one, into the skillet and lets them set a moment, then turns them. After a bit he’s clearly over it and asks me if I’d like to give it a try. Up to task, I belly up to the grill and start turning the dogs and stabbing at them, proclaiming to him that the stabbing was to release the inner juices so that the dogs can “bathe” in them. He chuckles at his silly daughters fanciful delusion and walks back to grab a beer and to supervise from afar. “Be careful honey,” he warns me, “don’t burn yourself.”
So it began, my theory that hotdogs needed to bathe in their own juices–a short-lived theory. Later on, my hotdog cookery evolved into my cutting slits in them and seasoning them to “infuse” them with flavors to strange hotdog sandwich combinations that I would dream up and put together unsupervised in the kitchen while my parents socialized in the yard. I remember this freedom of expression in the kitchen with a special fondness and realize it to be what cultivated my curiosity today.
The recipe in this post features duck bacon, which I acquired from a market specializing in local products. The duck bacon turned out to be fabulous–the duck being perfectly fatty to be a suitable substitution for pork bacon, making it kosher, but perhaps not much healthier otherwise. You likely could use turkey bacon, but I will not be held liable for any unsatisfactory results (I am not a fan of turkey bacon. Nope, not one bit).
Duck Bacon Wrapped Chicken Roulade served with Garlic Basil Couscous
Kosher Status : Meat
| Ingredients |
For the roulade
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- A package of duck bacon (about 12 slices)
- 2 tablespoons of dairy-free pesto
For the couscous
- 2 heads of garlic
- 1 uncooked cup of israeli couscous
- 1 cup of basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
| Directions |
- Place each chicken breast on a cutting board and cover with a layer of plastic wrap. Pound to near even thickness, allowing the thicker end to remain a bit thicker.
- On another large cutting board, lay down a long sheet of plastic wrap and lay slices of bacon–overlapping if needed–along the sheet. Remember that it needs to be as long as your chicken breasts and be able to wrap around it.
- Lay one breast on top of the bacon, smooth side down, and spread pesto over it.
- Lay the other breast on top of the other, alternating the thick ends to make a fairly even amount of meat throughout.
- Roll your roulade, using the plastic wrap to help, like you would a sushi roll or a burrito, taking care to ensure the bacon evenly covers your chicken (for help on this technique, see this video for an example of wrapping on another recipe).
- If you are cooking via sous vide, you will leave the plastic wrap on, just tie the ends and vacuum seal in a separate bag. If you are roasting the chicken, remove the plastic wrap.
Sous vide instructions:
- Pre-heat your sous vide to 149°F/65°C.
- Submerge the vacuum sealed chicken and cook for 1 and 1/2 hours to 4 hours.
- When ready, remove from water and plastic. Let cool for about 5-10 minutes, then slice with a very sharp knife (to ensure bacon stays put).
- Pre-heat your oven to 450°F/232°C.
- Brush roulades with a bit of vegetable oil and brown all sides quickly in a hot skillet.
- Transfer the roulades to a roasting pan and roast for about 5-7 minutes. Be careful when measuring internal temperature not to insert into the filing which may be a bit hotter than the meat.
- Remove from oven and let cool for about 5-10 minutes, then slice with a very sharp knife (to ensure the bacon stays put).
- Pre-heat your oven to 350°F/176°C.
- Sear garlic heads all over until black, using either a high powered torch or over a gas burner or grill. This will help develop a unique flavor.
- Transfer garlic to a skillet and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes–garlic fans, a warning: the smell that will fill your house will be incredible. Try not to salivate.
- Meanwhile, prepare your couscous following the directions for the package you’ve bought or using these directions.
- Cool your now-roasted garlic until comfortable to touch, and squeeze the garlic insides out into a food processor. Add the basil and oil to the food processor and process until smooth.
- Add the garlic mixture to the couscous and mix. Fluff with a fork.
In personal news, the fiance and I have finally chosen our honeymoon location and booked all flights and lodging–we’re going to Amsterdam and Morocco! Additionally, we have a new family member: Virgil An-Nar, the betta fish.
Named Virgil after the guide from Dante’s Inferno and An-Nar for the Arabic word for Hell fire (because his tail reminds me of flames), he’s a perfect addition to our household.