Thursday, July 28, 2011

Grilled Cheesy Barbecue Chicken

Thinly sliced or pounded pieces of boneless chicken breast are grilled, then topped with barbecue sauce, bacon and shredded cheeses, and finished with a garnish of fresh chopped tomatoes and sliced green onion.
Thinly sliced or pounded pieces of boneless chicken breast are grilled, then topped with barbecue sauce, bacon and shredded cheeses, and finished with a garnish of fresh chopped tomatoes and sliced green onion.

Grilled Cheesy Barbecue Chicken

This is a such a quick, easy and super tasty meal that's really perfect for any weeknight. Known across the net as a copycat of Chili's Monterey Chicken, it's really nothing more than a simple boneless, skinless chicken breast that is brushed with barbecue sauce, topped with bacon, a little shredded cheese and finished with a garnish of fresh chopped tomato and sliced green onion. Cheesy, smothered and covered y'all. Not a thing wrong with that!

I've never seen or tasted the actual Monterey Chicken from Chili's restaurant. I don't even know if it is still a menu item to be honest, but all of the recipes I've seen follow this basic method, though for my adaptation, I did make a few minor adjustments.

I didn't bother with a brine, or even a marinade, though a quick brine would certainly do nothing but enhance it and help prevent overcooking - something that is especially easy to do with boneless skinless chicken breasts. Instead of pounding the chicken breasts flat, like for a chicken fried chicken, or a schnitzel, I decided to slice them in half lengthwise. I guess I didn't have any aggression to take out at the time! Whether you pound it or slice it, get a few slices of bacon going too while you're preparing the chicken.

Most recipes I've seen seem to use two slices of bacon for each breast, crisscrossed over the top of the chicken, but that seemed a bit overboard to me. I know - y'all can't believe I just said that, can ya? Well, it's sort of like that raw bacon on top of baked beans to me - it's just awkward when it comes time to eat it, and besides, have you seen the price of bacon lately? I try to stock up when it goes on sale, but Geez Louise y'all!

I decided to use a thick cut applewood bacon and go with only one slice of bacon per whole breast, which I then cut in half, giving me a half slice of bacon for each piece of chicken. It ended up being plenty of bacon flavor to me, but use more if you like. You'll want to cook the bacon, but crisp it up to the point that you like, just not too hard.

I ended up with 8 pieces of chicken and truthfully one piece of chicken was enough for me with a side salad, vegetable and bread, though the chicken is so tasty you'll be tempted to eat more. Season both sides of the chicken with salt, pepper, onion powder and a little Cajun seasoning. We are gonna start off with grilling these and then finish them in the oven just to get the cheese all melty. I used my George Foreman grill{affil link}, but you can also just pan fry them. Now remember, these breasts are thin and it won't take long to cook them - so don't overcook them. Place them all on a foil lined baking sheet.

Put about a tablespoon of barbecue sauce on each breast and brush it on.

Cut the four slices of cooked bacon in half and top each piece of chicken with one half slice of cooked bacon. You could also crumble the bacon and sprinkle it on top of the chicken and frankly I think that'd be much easier to eat. Evenly divide the cheese over the top of each piece. I used a combination of Cheddar and Monterey jack cheeses mixed together, but if you happen to have some Velveeta Queso leftover from a party, warm it up (or make a fresh batch) and spoon that over the chicken instead. Delish!

Slide those uncovered, into a preheated 350 degree F oven, or under the broiler, just long enough to finish the chicken and melt the cheese. I prefer the oven.

Garnish with the chopped tomato and sliced green onion. Yes. It tastes as good as it looks y'all!

How delicious does that look? Smothered. Covered. Cheesy chicken. With bacon!

Serving Suggestions: Add a tossed green salad or a green veggie like Southern Style Green Beans with Bacon and Onion, alongside my Perfectly Cheesy Potatoes au Gratin, or Cheesy Baked Mashed Potatoes. Add some French bread and sweet tea.

Recipe: Grilled Cheesy Barbecue Chicken

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 20 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Onion powder
  • Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama) {affil link}
  • 1 cup each cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup of homemade or commercial barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 cup of chopped tomato
  • 1 green onion, sliced

Preheat broiler, or heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking pan with foil and spray with non-stick spray; set aside. Cook bacon until cooked, but not too crisp; set aside. Cut chicken breasts in half lengthwise so that you have 8 flat pieces of chicken. Season both sides with the salt, pepper, onion powder and Cajun seasoning. Grill or pan sear chicken just until browned on both sides and transfer to the baking pan.

Coat each chicken breast with about 1 tablespoon of barbecue sauce. Cut cooked bacon strips in half and place one half onto each piece of chicken. Mix together the cheeses, and evenly divide among each piece of chicken. Place into a preheated 350 degree F oven, or under the broiler, just long enough until juices run clear, chicken is cooked through, and the cheese is melted. Garnish with chopped tomato and sliced green onion if desired, and serve immediately.

Skillet Preparation: Cut chicken into strips or use precut tenders. Season on both sides and wrap each tender with a slice of bacon, securing with a toothpick if needed. Heat a large, lidded, non-stick skillet over medium high heat and add strips, cooking until bacon is crisping, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Turn chicken, reduce heat to low, dab barbecue sauce on top of the chicken pieces and sprinkle cheese over the top. Cover and cook over low until the cheese has melted. Garnish as above, if desired.

Oven Variation: If you don't have an indoor or outdoor grill, these may also be made start to finish in the oven with a little additional time. For boneless skinless breasts, season the chicken as above, but without flattening the breast. Wrap with full slices of a thin cut bacon (you'll need more). Bake at 350 degrees uncovered for about 30 minutes (actual time will be dependent on the size of the chicken breasts), or until bacon crisps and chicken reaches 165 degrees at the thickest part. Remove, check temperature, top with the cheeses; return to the oven for another 8 to 10 minutes or until cheese has melted nicely around the breast. Other cuts may be used but you will need to factor in additional times.

Cheesy Rotel Queso Chicken: Prepare a batch of Velveeta classic queso with 1/2 pound of Velveeta and a well, drained can of Rotel. Prepare chicken as above, omitting the cheese and substituting about 2 tablespoons of the queso spoon over the chicken. Serve immediately.

Cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Chicken: Prepare the chicken by one of the methods above. Substitute pizza sauce for the barbecue sauce, top with pepperoni, cheese and additional pepperoni on top. Garnish with chopped green onion; finish as above.

Outback Steakhouse Alice Springs Chicken Copycat: Prepare the chicken by one of the methods above, sprinkling lightly with onion powder. Make a half batch of my honey mustard sauce, except add in 1/2 cup of mayonnaise. Brush on the cooked chicken instead of barbecue sauce. Top with cooked bacon, 1 cup of sliced mushrooms, sauteed in butter; top with the shredded cheese; finish as above.

Grilled Smothered Chicken: Marinate chicken in 1-1/2 cups of bottled Italian dressing, adding 1 tablespoon of Liquid Smoke, for 30 minutes to 2 hours. Remove sprinkle with black pepper. Grill chicken as above. Cook bacon, remove, set aside, then add 2 tablespoons of butter to skillet and saute mushrooms; remove and caramelize 1 medium sized, sliced onion until golden brown. Top each piece of chicken with bacon, mushrooms, onion, and one slice of provolone; finish as above.

Smoky Mountain Chicken: Marinade chicken as above for smothered version. Substitute thin slices of smoked ham for the bacon and omit onions and mushrooms. Brush barbecue sauce on both sides of grilled breasts, pile several slices of ham loosely on top of each breast, then top with cheese. Place in oven just until cheese is melted and garnish with chopped tomato and sliced green onion before serving.


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Posted by on July 28, 2011
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