As the second post of my summer food round up, I thought I’d bring you the dish we’ve enjoyed this evening. It’s the second time I’ve made it and I think I’ve tweaked it to perfection this time! Served with fresh potatoes and vegetables, or a side salad, it’s a perfect summer dish.
The chicken thigh, in my humble opinion, is much maligned as the poor cousin of the favoured breast. Frankly, chicken thighs have a lot going for them. While they may not be as aesthetically pleasing as the smooth and lean breast, they are richer in flavour and texture, cheaper to purchase and easier to stuff with ingredients (less aesthetic, more ergonomic!). I’ll often use them in casseroles and curries over the winter, but in the summer I like to fill them with all manner of delicious things and then either grill, bake or barbecue them. They’re so easy to prepare. I buy mine boneless, six to a packet, unroll them and simply snip off any excess fat with a pair of scissors.
6 boneless chicken thighs
1 tub garlic and herb cream cheese
50g – 100g finely grated parmesan (to taste)
2 handfuls frozen spinach
2 heaped teaspoons green pesto
salt and pepper
12 slices parma ham
Preheat your oven to 200*C (fan)
Defrost the spinach and squeeze out the excess liquid (you can retain this for use in super smoothies or soup).
Mix the cream cheese, parmesan, squeezed spinach, green pesto and seasoning in a medium sized bowl until well mixed.
Prepare a baking tray by pouring a little oil onto it and spreading it around into a fine layer with a piece of kitchen towel. RETAIN the oily kitchen towel!
Unroll the chicken thigh and put a spoonful of the spinach mixture into it. Don’t worry if it doesn’t close right up when you re-roll it. It doesn’t matter if it leaks out.
Wrap two slices of parma ham around each thigh and place it onto your oiled tray.
Take the oily kitchen towel and dab each piece of chicken with it to give it a light sheen of oil.
Bake for 35 – 45 minutes, depending on the size of the thighs.
The variations on this are endless, but if you’re concerned about money and parma ham is out of your price range, you can always substitute it for streaky bacon.
If you want a low fat version, go for light cream cheese and use a cooking spray rather than vegetable/olive oil to mist your tray and chicken.
If garlic and herb is not your thing, use a plain cream cheese and leave out the pesto.
If spinach isn’t your thing, exchange it for sundried tomatoes or mushroom or courgette or chorizo or those fiery little pickled pepper things (peppadew?) Whatever floats your boat. Exchange the parmesan for blue cheese.
If you don’t want to wrap them in parma ham or bacon, or you want to barbecue your thighs, put a couple of cocktail sticks through them to pin them together