Southwest-style chicken breast

Chicken breast can be about the most bland, colorless food to grace your table. Here’s a way to really spice it up.

First, you’ll need to find some green chile. If you are like me you buy some at harvest time from farmers you actually know like Dan Hobbs at Hobbs Family Farm, have them roasted and then freeze them. Then when you need chile you can pull it out of the freezer. Whole chile is also available frozen from speciality stores, better groceries or directly from some farmers. I suppose canned whole chiles would work in a pinch though I’ve not tried this.

Green chile varieties range from mild to hot. Choose one based on your preference. I usually prefer a medium-hot variety. For this dish you’ll also need, of course, some chicken breasts, jack cheese, bacon, shallots or small onions, baby arugula greens, carrots and guacamole.

It’s simple. Run the oven up to 375 degrees. Quarter the carrots lengthwise. Chop a slice of bacon or two and thinly slice the shallots. Mix together the carrots, bacon chunks and shallots in a baking dish and put them in the oven to roast. You’ll want to leave them up to 45 minutes, bring them out and stir halfway through, until they start to caramelize at the edges.

In another heavy baking dish place your chicken breast. Salt and pepper, the top it with sliced jack cheese.

Clean your chiles by chopping off the stems, slicing one side lengthwise and removing the seeds with a knife or spoon. Drape the chile over the cheese and chicken. Then place a half-slice of bacon over this and put it in the oven.

While this is all cooking for about 35 minutes or so, whip up a quick guacamole with mashed avocado, chopped tomato, minced red onion and garlic, cilantro or whatever else you like in it.

When the food comes out of the oven, let it cool slightly, then plate it up as pictured, placing the chicken breast on a handful of arugula, surrounding it with the carrots, then topping it with guacamole and some of the shallots from the carrot mix.

Serve it up — this chicken won’t be bland, trust me.

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