Italian Entreeitaly_saltimbocca

Chicken stuffed with Prosciutto
(Serves 8)

Saltimbocca, literally "jump in the mouth," traditionally calls for veal. This recipe uses chicken and works beautifully.

4 large chicken breasts (skinned and boned)
8 thin slices prosciutto * (see sidebar)
8 whole fresh sage leaves (or fresh basil)
8 T mozzarella (shredded)
salt & pepper
4 T olive oil
1/2 C white wine
3 T butter

Cutlets: you're going to make a "chicken scallop" here—a very thin cutlet. Slice chicken breasts in half lengthwise. Even better, if you've got a really good, sharp knife, slice them from edge to edge, through the center (like cutting a deck of cards) to make them thinner. However you do it, place each half between waxed paper and pound to 1/4" thickness (use a mallet, or heavy chef’s knife blade).

Roll-ups: place 1 prosciutto slice, 1 sage leaf, and 1 T mozzarella on top of each chicken piece. Roll up and tie with a piece of string (a toothpick can hold the roll while you wrap and tie string, but don’t forget to remove it). Season roll-ups with salt and pepper.

Cooking: in a heavy skillet, heat oil till very hot. Add roll-ups, in batches, if necessary. Brown all sides, about 5-6 minutes per batch. Return all roll-ups to skillet, pour in white wine, and simmer very gently over a low heat for 8-10 more minutes, just until chicken is cooked through but still tender. Arrange saltimbocca on a platter and keep warm, with a foil tent, while you finish off the sauce.

Sauce & Serve: Add butter to wine in skillet, stirring and scraping up the meat frond from bottom of pan. Boil down to thicken slightly, add salt and pepper to taste, and pour over saltimbocca. Serve immediately.

* If you can’t find prosciutto, capicola works well. It’s also considerably cheaper than prosciutto.

| See more Italian recipes |

Tips & Glossary

Arborio Rice: a medium-grained rice. Its high starch content yields a creamy texture and is the basis for risotto.

Balsamic Vinegar: dark, thick vinegar with a sweet pungent flavor. Fermented, concentrated, and aged in wooden casks, sometimes up to 12 years. Can be pricey.

Caper: salty, pickled bud of spiny shrub native to the Mediterranean region. Most prized is the non-pareil, the smallest (approx. 1/8”), though other sizes are tasty and less expensive.

Formaggio: Cheese! Like France, Italy is a land of sublime cheeses, some 400 varieties. Here are some of the most widely sold in the U.S.
Asiago (Alpine region; smooth or crumbly, great for grating.)
Fontina (Alpine region; a Gruyere- or Swiss-type cheese with nutty flavor.)
Mascarpone (southwest of
Milan; triple-cream, smooth and easily spread; used in Tiramisu.)
Mozzarella (generic term for semi-soft cheese; “fresh” is eaten the day it is made; “buffalo” is from water buffalo. Used in lasagna and pizza when dried slightly.)
Parmigiano Reggiano (Parma area; the true Parmesan, whose designation is strictly controlled in Italy.)
Pecorino Romano (made of sheep’s milk; mostly from Sardinia. A hard, salty cheese used for grating.)
Provolone (mostly from northern Italy; semi-hard, varying from mild to sharp flavor.)
Ricotta (made of whey, a by-product of making other cheese; soft and creamy like cottage cheese. Used in lasagna.)
Romano (an American term for Pecorino Romano and other cheeses.)

Italian Seasoning: blend of dried herbs used in Italian cooking—marjoram, thyme, rosemary, savory, sage, oregano, and basil. Packaged commercially and found in most food stores. You can also make your own.

Olive Oil: There's much more to know than is room for here. To learn all you need to know about the different grades of oil, and much, much more, head to Tanbourit.

Pine Nuts: pinoli or pignoli; edible seeds of pine trees used in pesto sauce. Before cooking, release flavor by lightly browning in a heated skillet.

Plum Tomatoes: aka Italian tomatoes; oval-shaped. Used in sauces because they are meatier with fewer seeds than standard tomatoes.

Roasted peppers: buy or make your own: place under a broiler, or hold over a gas flame, till skin chars and blisters. Place in a closed paper bag for 15-20 minutes (to steam them). When cool, the skins slip off under water.

Prosciutto: especially Prosciutto di Parma, dry-cured ham from Parma. The real deal! Cured up to 2 years, is almost sweet and very expensive. You can substitute with capicola, a delicious, light peppery ham.


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