If I have sage on hand, this is one of my favorite dishes to put it to good use: chicken saltimbocca.
Saltimbocca is Italian for “jumps in the mouth” as all of the core flavors to this dish are really vibrant when they come together. Surprisingly though, there are countless variantions on saltimbocca as it is apparently popular in Switzerland, Italy, Spain and Greece where the featured meat, sauce, and garnish can all differ greatly (e.g. chicken, veal, pork, wine, salt water, oil, etc). The one commonality across all of these interpretations of the dish though: roulades stuffed with that mentholy, peppery flavor of sage and the richness of prosciutto. In this version, I stuffed chicken breast roulades with fresh sage, basil, goat cheese, and prosciutto and then top it off with some Marsala and mushrooms. This dish is also my entry for this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Kalyn from Kalyn’s Kitchen. My regular readers might notice that this is also similar to goat cheese chicken roulades, a dish which is basically chicken saltimbocca junior in my household . 😉
- 1-1.5 lbs Chicken breast/veal scallopini
- 1/4 – 1/2 lb of very thinly sliced prosciutto (as in Parma ham)
- Herb paste:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- ~10 large leaves of tarragon/basil
- ~10 large leaves of Sage
- Dried oregano
- 6-8 cloves of garlic
- No more than 1/2 cup mozzarella/goat cheese
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup Marsala wine
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped mushrooms (I used portabella)
- Handful of flat-leaf parsely
- 1 egg
- either some flour or Italian flavored bread crumbs
First, prepare the pesto-like filling. Put the garlic cloves, sage, tarragon/basil, dried oregano, and a dash of extra virgin olive oil in the food processor and pulse until everything is chopped finely. Then, add your cheese and give it another quick pulse or two just to get everything mixed. Set this mixture aside. You’ll use it to stuff your chicken with a ton of flavor, and the cheese will also help to hold things together a little bit (not much 😉 ).
While your knife is still clean, chop up your parsely somewhat finely and your mushrooms to medium-sized chunks. Set these aside–you’ll use this to make a simple sauce/glaze towards the very end of this dish.
Now, time to prepare the meat. If you’re going veal, you can probably buy a scallopini-style cut, in which case, you’re all set. If you’re going chicken, butterfly and/or pound it with a meat mallet to get it as thin as possible. Then, spread your pesto-like paste evenly on top of each flattened piece of meat.
On to my favorite part of this dish: lay a few slices of prosciutto on top of each piece (and eat a few while your hands are clean), doing your best to cover every square inch of the herb paste. As prosciutto is pretty thinly cut, I lay on a few slices–you don’t want to make it too thick, but one measely slice simply isn’t enough prosciutto.
Now, carefully roll up each piece of meat as tightly as you can into roulades. You might want to prop some toothpicks through the meat or tie with some string to hold things together–I tend not to, but if it looks like they could just unravel at any moment, you probably should.
In a small bowl, beat an egg, and in another, set aside your breading whether it be flour or the breadcrumbs (you don’t need very much).
Dip each roulade in the egg, dredge in the breading, and fry on medium/medium-high heat in some olive oil. Roll/flip the meat to prevent burning and to cook everything evenly, but be careful about turning your meat in the pan as you don’t want to accidentally unroll your roulades. This should take somewhere around 7-15 minutes depending on whether you’re chicken/veal and how thinly you pounded your meat earlier. Overcooking veal is a bad thing (same for chicken, but worse for veal 😮 ), so be careful.
Once cooked through, pour in the marsala and the broth. Add in your chopped parsely and mushrooms, lower the heat, and stir everything up. Put a lid on and simmer things for about 20 minutes, checking in to stir and flip periodically until the liquid has reduced by at least half. The liquid will go from sloshy to thick and saucy, almost to the point of merely glazing the meat (which is what you want). The mushrooms help with this in that they suck up a lot of that moisture as well.
When done cooking, depending on the length of your roulades, you’ll probably want to slice each into halves or thirds before serving in the name of both reasonable portions and showing off that nice swirl in the center. 😉 Then top with a drizzle of extra sauce and a few mushrooms from the pan.