Chicken Spiral Skewers with Fresh Basil

This is one of my favorite chicken dishes. I love the color of the tomato paste and fresh basil wrapped inside the chicken. It’s so pretty. The flavor the smoked bacon imparts is wonderful. If you don’t feel like taking your frustrations out on the chicken breasts, you can either slice the breasts super thin yourself or have your butcher do it for you. The thinner the better for an easy roll. Even when using thin cut breasts, I still pound them out just a little.

While this dish is really simple to make, it takes time and a lot of patience to get the spirals onto the skewers without having a huge mess on your hands. While I love this dish, it is not one of Hubby’s favorites, so I don’t serve it very often. Perhaps if I did, I might master the art of creating spirals out of raw chicken.

There’s something almost exotic about these chicken spirals, which explains why I love to serve them over a bed of garlic couscous. Now I know I said this dish isn’t one of Hubby’s favorite – he likes the chicken just fine – it’s the couscous he could do without. In my book, the two seem to go hand-in-hand. I will confess, I use the instant couscous – you know, the stuff that cooks up in about 5 minutes.

Hubby and I make compromises – I don’t like meatloaf, so it’s something I do for him on his birthday. He doesn’t like Spiral Chicken over Garlic Couscous, so it’s something I make around this time of year for a Sunday Dinner. Toss in a Greek Salad and it’s my turn to have my annual supper.

Skewered Chicken Spirals with Fresh Basil
4 Chicken Breasts, boneless, skinless, pounded thin
1 Garlic Clove, crushed
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
4 Hickory-Smoked Bacon Slices
Large handful Fresh Basil Leaves
Kitchen twine, enough to hold rolled chicken together
Oil for brushing
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Bamboo Skewers, soaked for 30 minutes in water

Soak Wooden Cocktail or Bamboo Skewers in water for 30 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.
Spread out a piece of chicken between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound thin. Repeat with remaining chicken.

On a large work space, lay out chicken. Pat dry and season with salt and pepper. Mix together garlic and tomato paste, spread a layer of paste on each piece of chicken. Lay a slice of bacon on top of paste, then scatter basil leaves. Roll tightly to form a spiral, rolling in the opposite direction as the bacon strip. Beginning at the center and working out, secure roll with kitchen twine in 1-inch intervals. Trim the ends so that the chicken will be somewhat uniform in shape and thickness.

Starting at one end of rolled, about ¾ of an inch from the very end, with the breast perpendicular to the skewer, thread bamboo skewer through chicken to hold spiral shape. Using a sharp knife, slice chicken spiral from roll at the twine; and then cut away twine. Give the skewered spiral a quarter turn, so that the cut side is up. Re-position roll and repeat until entire breast has been threaded onto skewer, cutting away twine as you go. This will make the rolled chicken hold its shape better and will make threading it easier. You should end up with four or five spiral pieces of chicken on each skewer.

Heat broiler element. Lay chicken on a broiler pan and brush with oil. Place chicken under broiler and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 15-20 minutes, turning once midway through.

01 Pound Breast Thin

Gently pound chicken very thin for easy roll.

02 Pat Dry & Season

Pat chicken dry, season with salt and pepper

03 Spread Tomato Paste, add bacon & basil

Spread garlic-tomato paste over breast, top with a strip of bacon and sprinkle with basil leaves.

04 Roll and Tie

Roll breast tightly, secure with twine to help hold shape.

07 Place on skewers

Thread chicken on skewers, turning cut side up as you go. (And, yeah, it’s not going to be perfect).

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