I have to admit that “Hunter’s Chicken” was always something that passed me by on a restaurant or pub menu.
Part of this would have come from confusion over the name… I grew up in the 1980s when “Chicken Chasseur” was very much de rigueur, which meant that I would have expected a wine-based, mushroom and chicken stew rather than a chicken breast smothered in bacon, barbecue sauce and molten cheese. Chasseur, for those who don’t know, is the French for ‘hunter’.
Anyway, when I met the man who is now my husband I quickly discovered how wrong I was. Hunter’s Chicken wasn’t a wine and herb rich casserole at all – what I fool I was! Indeed the only thing they have in common is chicken! This version takes the form of an oven cooked chicken breast, wrapped in bacon and generously smothered with barbecue sauce and cheddar cheese. Certainly the sort of meal that would raise a few eyebrows across the Channel!
I also found out that Hunter’s Chicken was one of his “go to” menu items in a pub or restaurant – often being the safe port in a storm of indecision. The only downside being that as it’s a fairly simple dish it’s just as easy to get it very wrong as very right. For every succulent chicken breast oozing with bacony, cheesy goodness there’s going to be a chef who’s happy to serve a dry old bit of meat hiding under a burnt crisp drowning in an acrid sauce.
I like to think that my version is the former – moist, flavoursome and well cooked. Helped along the way with my own homemade Barbecue Sauce to try and ensure that the flavours remain balanced. This is pub grub at its best – especially when served with crunchy Mini Roast Potatoes and some steamed veg.
Perfect comfort food as the evenings start to draw in!
The Barbecue Sauce and Cheese in this recipe help ensure that the Chicken remains moist and tender, as well as adding flavour. I also like to rub the chicken in seasoning and herbs before cooking it to add even more depth.
- 2 x Skinless Chicken Breasts about 130-150g each
- ½ tsp Black Pepper
- ½ tsp Garlic Powder
- ½ tsp Mixed Herbs
- ½ tsp Salt
- 4 x rashers Back Bacon fat trimmed
- 100 g strong Cheddar sliced
- 8 tbsp Barbecue Sauce
- Pre-heat your oven to 180°C
- Put the chicken breasts into an ovenproof dish that's deep enough to catch any sauce, cheese or juices as they cook. Cut a slit down the middle of each breast (don't cut the whole way through, just make a pocket) then sprinkle over the salt, pepper, garlic powder and herbs before rubbing into the chicken.
- Add 1-2 tbsp barbecue sauce into the pocket you just created before wrapping each chicken breast with two slices of bacon, tucking the ends underneath the breast where possible.
- Cover with foil then bake the chicken in the oven for 20 minutes until it's almost cooked but still nice and moist.
- Remove from the oven and spoon over the remaining barbecue sauce, before covering each breast with a generous amount of sliced cheese. You could grate the cheese if you wanted but slices will create more of a substantial coating over each breast.
Return to the oven for another 8-10 minutes until the cheese has melted and started to go golden on the edges.
Serve with the vegetables or salad of your choice.