Halloumi is perfect for stuffing meat, as it doesn’t melt into nothingness when roasted. In fact, it softens to a pillow-y, marshmallow-y deliciousness and it gives amazing flavor and saltiness. I first brushed the thighs with a herb/garlic infused olive oil and this gave a very aromatic kick to the halloumi. The tomatoes however are the star of the dish. Roasting cherry tomatoes with chicken transforms them into a sweet but savoury burst-in-your-mouth delicious “candy”. That and roasted garlic make one of the best pan sauces for chicken.
This is a very aromatic, delicious dish. The only fiddly moment is stuffing the thighs, which can become stress free when you realise that the halloumi doesn’t need to be encased in the thigh. Let me repeat myself; Halloumi doesn’t melt. It softens. So just rolling the boneless thigh around it is fine! Halloumi basically replaces the bone in the thigh.
I kept the thigh together with some really cool mini-skewers I had stashed away in my drawers. They are called “poultry lacers” and are used (I think) like needles if you want to sow a chicken cavity. I never used them to sow the thighs, of course, just to keep them together. You can also use kitchen twine. Don’t be too fussy about it. One or two knots are enough.
Serve this wonderful, Mediterranean dish with rice or mushed potatoes to soak up all the delicious pan juices.
For the herb infused olive oil
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 tsp fresh rosemary chopped
- 1 garlic clove crushed
- Salt and pepper
For the Chicken
- 8 boneless chicken thighs with skin
- 8 pieces halloumi, about the size of your index finger (you will need about 150 grams)
- About 800 grams cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup green olives (you can substitute black olives)
- 12 cloves garlic, unpeeled and slightly crushed with the side of a knife
- 4 Tbs olive oil
- 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
- 10 fresh thyme sprigs
- ½ Tbs dried coriander seeds, crushed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 200 C. Mix together all the ingredients for the infused olive oil. Go easy on the salt, as halloumi is salty.
Open the chicken thighs skin side down, and press down slightly with a meat tenderiser or a rolling pin to flatten a bit. Brush the inside of the thigh with the infused olive oil. Put one piece of halloumi in the centre of the thigh and roll. Secure with a small metal skewer or kitchen twine.
Place thighs in a baking pan, seam side down. Scatter the cherry tomatoes, olives and garlic in the pan. Mix the 4 tablespoons olive oil with any left over infused oil you may have and the balsamic vinegar. Drizzle all over the thighs, tomatoes and olives. Sprinkle with the crushed coriander and thyme sprigs. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Roast chicken in the preheated oven for 45 minutes until chicken is golden and cooked through. Remove the skewers from chicken. Transfer to each plate 2 chicken thighs, cherry tomatoes, olives and garlic cloves. Serve with rice or mashed potatoes, drizzled liberally with the pan juices.