Ranch Chicken

I start out a lot of posts with "I never liked (insert food here) in the past, but..."

Aside from the fact that it's the God-honest truth, it's also an easy way for me to convey the promise of the dish itself - not to tout that my palate is more refined now than it ever has been in the past. That a dish could turn me from a hater to a convert speaks pretty highly of it, in my opinion.

That said, without ever trying it, I had a severe prejudice against honey mustard up until Sunday. A few years back, when I lived in Virginia, I had a friend that requested a side of honey mustard to accompany every one of his orders of chicken tenders or french fries, and the sight of the gloppy flourescent yellow liquid always turned my stomach. It just sounded and looked awful, but clearly I had no idea why I thought that...it really is a perfect compliment for grilled or broiled chicken!

This chicken, courtesy Ree at The Pioneer Woman, could be the simplest of country foods: pan-fried chicken covered in bacon and yellow cheese. However, the marinade in grainy mustard, honey and paprika changes the whole scope of the chicken from simple to sassy.
You will need (adapted slightly from The Pioneer Woman Cooks):

½ cup grainy mustard or dijon mustard
½ cup honey
1 whole lemon, juice only
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon salt
Crushed red pepper (optional; to taste)
4 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 slices thick cut (preferably peppered) bacon, cooked
Shredded colby or cheddar cheese, to taste

To begin, make the marinade. In a large bowl mix together ½ cup dijon or country/grainy mustard with ½ cup honey, juice of 1 lemon, ½ teaspoon paprika, and ½ teaspoon salt and whisk until smooth. Sprinkle in some crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne if desired. Set aside.

Next, rinse the chicken breasts, place between two sheets of waxed paper and pound to around ½ to ¾ inch thick with a mallet. Next, add the chicken to the bowl with the marinade, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 1 to 3 hours (1 hour was sufficient).

Grill the chicken on an outdoor grill over medium flame until cooked through.

Remove chicken to a large baking sheet. Lay a few pieces of bacon over each chicken breast. Sprinkle shredded sharp cheddar cheese over the top of the chicken as generously as you like. Set pan under your oven's broiler set to low for an additional five minutes until cheese is melted and bacon is sizzling. Serve immediately.

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