We just returned from Hotlanta and had a lovely near week...this is what Hank and Marissa served us on the first night. Ranch Style Chicken from The Pioneer Woman Cooks Website
Theirs turned out looking exactly like this picture.
I have copied only the Pioneer Woman's running dialog/recipe but if you go the link, you can see the actual pictures or the recipe in progress.
The Cast of Characters:
Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
Thick cut bacon
Crushed Red Pepper (optional)
Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Canola oil (not shown, because I’m an airhead.)
To begin, mix together 1/2 cup Dijon or country/grainy mustard with 1/2 cup honey. Add juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. And have some fun here! Sprinkle in some crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne if you like things a little spicy.
Whisk it together until smooth.
Next, rinse the chicken breasts under cool water and pat them dry.
We’re going to pound the chicken breasts so they have a more uniform thickness, which means they’ll cook more evenly and won’t be dry around the edges.
Plus, I just like to pound things with my mallet. It’s an unbelievably effective stress reducer.
Place one chicken breast between two sheets of waxed paper…
Lightly pat the waxed paper so it adheres to the chicken. The reason we’re using waxed paper is that it will prevent teeny tiny bits of grody raw chicken from flying al over the kitchen.
Because nothing ruins your day more than finding a teeny tiny bit of grody raw chicken stuck to the side of your blender. *Shudder.*
With a mallet or a rolling pin (you can also use a heavy can!) lightly pound the chicken breast so that the thickness is uniform. By the time it all evens up, it’s usually around 1/2 to 3/4″ thick.
Nice and even. And you can go ahead and trim off the little pieces of fat if you’d like. Also, if the chicken breasts are overly huge, I often cut them in half just to create more manageable (and kid-friendly) pieces.
Next, just add all the chicken to the bowl with the marinade. You’ll want to cover this with plastic wrap and let it marinate in the fridge for at least an hour—usually I let it go about 2 to 3 hours, but that’s only because I’m always running behind.
While the chicken is marinating, go ahead and fry up some bacon:
I happen to think there’s nothing better on earth than thick cut peppered bacon. But not all areas of the country—or supermarket chains—agree. So any kind of bacon will do; just keep in mind that the bacon will eventually go into the oven, so you don’t want to get it too crisp in the skillet.
A warning about thick cut (or any) bacon: make ten times (not an exaggeration) more than you think you’re going to need. This has been a public service announcement.
Next, and this is important, reserve 1/4 cup of the bacon grease, and go ahead and clean out the skillet. Otherwise, it’ll get too smoky.
When you’re ready to prepare the chicken, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Remove the chicken from the fridge and pour off excess marinade into the sink. Heat half of the reserved bacon grease with an equal quantity of Canola Oil in the clean skillet over medium-high to high heat. (We want to sear the chicken, not cook it completely.) When the grease is sufficiently heated, add a batch of chicken to the skillet. Don’t overcrowd the skillet—just 3 pieces is usually enough.
Watch the chicken, and when it starts to get brown/black on one side…
Flip it to the other side. Cook just until brown/blackish areas appear. Each side should cook for a maximum of 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Fact: Your kitchen smells divine right about now.
Repeat with all the chicken breasts, then set them on a large baking sheet. If you look a little closer, you’ll notice the chicken is definitely not fully cooked. Gross, man.
Go ahead and throw the pan of chicken into the hot oven for about ten minutes to continue cooking. Then remove the pan from the oven…
And lay a couple of bacon slices over each chicken breast.
Next, grab some grated sharp cheddar and sprinkle it over the top as generously as you’d like.
I really like to grate my own cheese. I just like the way it melts.
Just return the pan to the oven for an additional five minutes, or until cheese is melted and bacon is sizzling.
Then serve immediately…