Late summer in New Mexico, every air wave carries the distinct, heavenly aroma of Hatch green chile roasting in back yards, grocery stores, even makeshift road-side stands… These green gems are found in chile stew (green chile stew), hamburgers (green chile-cheese burger), pork laden green chile, green chile-chicken enchiladas, relleno… I could go on and on.
The combo of my husband and I worked out well ( New Mexican and Italian), why not a pesto? This pesto is lovingly embraced in a spice-brined chicken breast, oozing with creamy cheese, all wrapped up with bacon… Need I say more?
2 T cumin
1 T Coriander
2 T chili powder
2 T garlic powder
4 T salt
4 T brown sugar
2 tsp parsley flake
2 T olive oil
1 cup basil
½ cup Hatch green chile
3 cloves garlic
½ cup pine nuts, toasted
½ cup monterey jack cheese (mild white cheese of choice)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in half lengthwise
Combine 1 T of each of the following in a gallon freezer bag: cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes and oregano. Add 3 T kosher salt and 4 crushed cloves of garlic.
Place chicken in the bag and cover with water.
Turn the bag several times until the mixture is combined and chicken is coated.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Combine 1/2 c basil, Hatch chile or 1-2 cans green chile, and 3 cloves garlic in blender or food processor and blend till smooth. If you want, you can add 1/2 c Parmesan cheese to intensify flavors.
Add toasted pine nuts, salt and pepper to the blender and give it a rough pulse.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Remove chicken from bag and pat dry. Pound out chicken breasts;
layer pesto and shredded cheese on flattened breast. Wrap with slice of turkey bacon, close with toothpicks.
In a small bowl, combine remaining spices and brown sugar, add 1-2 T olive oil and stir to make a paste.
Top chicken with the herb paste. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees. (Will work on a grill, too, but the thought of all that gooey cheese slipping through the grill grate just breaks my heart!)