Weeknight Shorts: Cowboy Food

When life gets busy, I grab either my tried and true stockpot or my favorite 10-inch skillet. Either of these is the perfect vessel for cowboy food. What's that? A lot of people refer to it as one-pot dishes. I prefer calling it cowboy food because, in this case, it's also low-effort and high-flavor. A perfect case in point:

Imagine quickly frying some bacon bits and that being the most involved part of putting dinner together. That's what happens with this simple dish. Now, cowboy food can be dinner simply on its own, but because of the hands-off approach to cooking, it also gives you a chance to throw together simple sides, whether that's a salad or rice or pasta. This time around, I paired the flavorful chicken and roasted tomatoes with a simple rice dish with sweet peppers and a bit of garlic. Couscous would have been pretty great, too.

The most involved aspect of this dish — frying the bacon — also does something else. It coats the bottom of the pan with a layer of bacon fat that helps cook the chicken from below, season the meal, and keep the chicken from sticking to the skillet. Doing most of the cooking in the oven means having time for the above-mentioned sides, odds and ends around the house, or a well-deserved pause in your day to just relax. After all, such a smart dinner idea deserves to be rewarded!

Cheesy Bacon Chicken

  • 3 slices of bacon, chopped and fried
  • 2 chicken breasts, sliced in half to create 4 pieces of chicken
  • BBQ sauce (choose your favorite variety)
  • 1 1/2 c. grated cheese (choose your favorite variety)
  • 8 oz. grape tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

In a medium skillet, fry the bacon until crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain.

Arrange the chicken pieces in the pan, making sure they do not overlap. Carefully drizzle the BBQ sauce over the chicken, using a brush to make sure each piece of chicken is evenly coated. Sprinkle the cheese over the chicken, toss the grape tomatoes into the pan, and place the entire skillet in the preheated oven. Bake for 15 minutes.

Remove the skillet and sprinkle the cooked bacon over the top of the skillet. Return the skillet to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

  • Yields: 3-4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 40 minutes

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