I just wanted to drop by and tell you about this dish I made the other night. I’m telling you, by the time I was done, I was pretty impressed. I made a chicken pancetta and cheddar bake! What’s that, you ask? Let me explain…
It’s not complicated. Chicken breast, ranch dressing, pancetta and cheddar. LOTS of cheddar. Not so much cheddar that you can’t #2 for a week (cheese has been known to do that), but just, you know, a nice, gooey, cheesy amount.
Don’t be freaked out by the pancetta. Pancetta is simply a product made from pork belly and cured very similar to bacon. The main difference between the two is that bacon is smoked and pancetta is not. Pancetta is often sold in thin strips like bacon, or in circular rounds, or in tiny cubes. So my gorgeous readers, if you don’t have pancetta, use bacon. In fact, if I didn’t have the pancetta left over from a different dish, I totally would have used bacon.
So, let’s get to the “how to”!
Chicken breasts. Place them in a baking dish. Season those breasts with pepper, garlic powder and a SPRINKLING of salt. Like, almost like a pretend amount. The reason why is that the pancetta has salt in it, and you don’t want this chicken pancetta cheddar bake to taste like you’re eating a salt lick.
Next, drizzle with your favorite ranch dressing. Don’t cheap out here… buy a decent, thick brand. Putting runny ranch dressing on the chicken would taste like failure. You want to taste the creamy ranchness on the chicken. So again, thick, creamy luscious dressing. Like, a brand that knows what they’re doing when making ranch dressing. You won’t be sorry.
Now, the super delicious part. Take your pancetta (or bacon), and artistically, like you’re an artist, wave or ripple or ribbon (whatever verb you’d like to use) it on top of the chicken. Don’t just lay it on there like a wet noodle. You want to create some air in between the folds and piles of glorious meat. Reason being is that when you get the cheese on top, you don’t want the cheese acting all smothering like, not allowing any air to get at the pancetta and it becoming flabby like under cooked bacon. *shudder*. You wan’t CRISPY CRISPY CRISPY!
You’ll want to bake the chicken without the cheese first so that it helps add that crispness. Also, if you put the cheese on too early, there’s a chance that it might get over baked, and the goal here is cheesy gooey-ness. So bake the chicken until it cooked through and the pancetta is nice and crispy.
Quickly remove the chicken from the oven and sprinkle the shredded cheddar on top. I said earlier that you want a healthy amount of cheddar, but honestly, this recipe is so nice that you don’t have to go crazy with it. BUT… trust me when I say you need it.. it just adds that extra amount of YUMMMM to the dish. Throw it back in the oven, and turn off the heat. Go set the table for dinner. The residual temps will melt that cheddar into a gooey-party on the chicken by the time you’re done.
By the way, if you like the sounds of this dish, I have a few other chicken dishes you might want to try like one pan tzatziki chicken and baby potatoes, or cheesy chicken bacon fusilli casserole. To serve this amazing chicken dish, try it with some rice if you’d like, and then sit back and watch the family, friends, or whomever your cooking for, ooooooh and aaaahhh over this chicken dish. Heck, your kids might even spontaneously jump up after eating and clean their rooms in sheer appreciation for presenting such deliciousness for dinner. Ok, this chicken pancetta cheddar bake is super good.. but maybe not THAT good. Getting kids to do that … well… that’s miracle territory.