Sometimes the most memorable dishes of the holiday gatherings are the side dishes or appetizers. The popular trend for a while now is serving a menu of just appetizers. This way your guest are able to try a variety of different dishes. For this recipe, I combined the ever so popular bacon-wrapped chicken with a chile ancho and brown sugar glaze. With simple and staple ingredients found in most of our pantries, this dish becomes extra special. Sweet, salty and slightly spicy, these bacon wrapped chicken tenders are always a hit at my holiday gatherings. Make sure you save this recipe for after the holidays. Switch out the glaze with your favorite buffalo sauce and it will soon become a favorite for gameday as well!
Yields 6 to 8 servings
2 boneless chicken breast, sliced into 12 to 14 tenders
*I prefer to slice my own boneless chicken breast, but you can also use pre-sliced tenders
Salt and pepper
Chile ancho powder
12 to 14 strips hickory smoked bacon, plus 2 extra strips for crumbles
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
For the Glaze:
1 tablespoon bacon grease or oil of your choice
1/3 cup onion, diced fine or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried onion flakes
1 clove garlic
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup water or broth
1/3 cup ketchup
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons chile ancho powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 to 1/3 teaspoon chipotle powder or cayenne or dash of hot sauce
Salt to taste
1. After you slice the chicken, season on both sides with salt, pepper, garlic powder and chile ancho powder. Wrap each tender with a full strip of bacon. If you like, you can secure with a toothpick. Chill until ready to cook. Cook the 2 extra pieces of bacon until crispy. Let cool, crumble and reserve.
2. In that same pan used for the bacon, heat to medium. Add the onions (if using fresh) and garlic. If using the dried onions, reserve for later. Season lightly with salt and pepper and saute for 5 minutes. To finish the glaze, add all of the remaining ingredients listed for glaze. If using dried onions, add them now. Stir well to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and continue cooking until the glaze becomes thick and reduces. Taste for salt and pepper.
3. Remove chicken from refrigerator. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Preheat a large skillet to medium heat for a few minutes. When hot, brown the chicken for 7 to 9 minutes, turning as needed. Transfer to a baking pan as they cook.
4. Pour half of the glaze over browned chicken, reserving the other half. Sprinkle a little more brown sugar over chicken. I like to add a little more fresh cracked pepper at this time. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, then broil for less than a minute to finish. Transfer to serving plate. Garnish with crumbled bacon and drizzle the remaining glaze over the top of chicken.