Almond Crusted Chicken with Blue Cheese, Bacon, Mushroom Stuffing

We did this two ways--stuffed and topped--to see which we liked best. WE LIKED BOTH! So I will offer both options below:

Almond Crusted Chicken with Blue Cheese, Bacon, & Mushroom (Stuffing)

Crusted Chicken:
2 Chicken breasts
1/4 cup almonds, lightly crushed
Herbs of choice (I used mainly thyme and a punch of cumin)
Salt & pepper
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp dijon mustard

Sauce/Stuffing :
3 pieces of bacon (or 4!)
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup shitake mushrooms, remove stems and slice
1 small shallot, finely diced
2 Tbsp Blue cheese (or more if you like!)
1/2 cup cream (optional, if making sauce instead of stuffing)

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Line baking sheet with foil, lay out bacon and bake for 15 minutes, turning once halfway through, until crispy. Remove to paper towel.
  3. Add butter to pan over medium-low heat. Add mushrooms and wilt. Add shallots, some salt and pepper to taste, and cook until shallots are transparent. Remove to bowl.
  4. When bacon is cool enough to handle, break or chop into small pieces, add to bowl with mushrooms and shallots. Add blue cheese and mix lightly with fingers.
  5. IF STUFFING, slice a pocket into the breast and use fingers to gently widen the interior without making the entry hole too large (keeps the ingredients from spilling out during cooking). Take 1/2 of the blue cheese/bacon/shallot/mushroom mix and stuff into the pocket, press opening closed as best you can.
    IF COATING, leave chicken intact and move on to step 6
  6. Mix herbs, some salt and pepper to taste, coat chicken breasts with herbs
  7. Mix together honey and dijon, coat herbed chicken breasts 
  8. Roll each breast in crushed almonds. Place crusted breasts on the same foil-lined sheet you cooked your bacon on (should have bacon fats/oils still on it)
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until internal temp is to your liking (I am a 165 girl, public health will tell you otherwise, but I'm a rebel like that). 
  10. IF YOU DID NOT STUFF, add 1/4 cup cream to pan and heat over medium-low to reduce by half. Add blue cheese/bacon/shallot/mushroom mix to reduced cream and heat through, stirring until blue cheese melts completely.
  11. Let chicken rest about 5 minutes before serving. 
  12. NOTE: If you made a sauce, I recommend putting it in a little pool on the plate and then placing the chicken breast on top of the sauce. It's a slightly more elegant presentation, IMO, than a lumpy sauce poured over the top, obscuring the lovely browned almond crust.

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