January 7, 2011

Chicken Saltimbocca and Arugula with Lemon Vinaigrette

We all need 'weeknight' dinners- dinners that can be pulled together relatively quickly, but that are also delicious and elegant, right? Here's one that I think will become a favorite of yours! Chicken saltimbocca (saltimbocca means 'jumps in the mouth' in Italian), this is a pounded chicken cutlet wrapped in thinly sliced prosciutto and fresh sage leaves, it literally has three ingredients. You can do this, AND do it fast! This recipe is also meant for a dear friend who is looking for dishes her children, who have a few food allergies, can eat. I think this will fit the bill!

Chicken Saltimbocca
(serves two adults, just increase proportions as needed!)
2 Chicken cutlets
1/4 lb. thinly sliced prosciutto
10-12 fresh sage leaves
freshly ground pepper

Chicken cutlets, which you can typically buy at the butcher or the meat counter are simply skinless, boneless chicken breast halves that have been butterflied so that they open like a book. So, if for some reason you can't get cutlets, you can either butterfly chicken breast halves yourself, or just use skinless boneless chicken breast halves and adjust your cooking time to make sure your chicken gets cooked all the way through. Let's begin!

Take your chicken cutlets and place a piece of parchment (or waxed) paper on top of the chicken. Using a meat tenderizer tool, beat both cutlets until they are a little bit flatter and uniform. This won't take a lot. Now, cut each cutlet in half vertically, so that you have two relatively symmetrical halves. Place the fresh sage leaves on the chicken pieces, about one sage leaf every 2 inches or so. On some of the pieces I fit three, on a smaller piece only two, you can take a look at the picture and see what I mean. Sprinkle this side of the chicken with some freshly cracked pepper.

Moving on! Take your prosciutto slices and wrap them around each of the four pieces of chicken. Try to keep the wrapping single ply, I have found that there is such a thing as too much prosciutto here. I used a bit less than 1/4 of a pound for two chicken cutlets. If you need to lift up the chicken pieces to wrap them thoroughly, do so, trying to keep the sage leaves where they are. Since the raw chicken is sticky, the sage should stay in place and so should the prosciutto once you place it on the chicken.

A few important thoughts about salt here- you'll notice this recipe doesn't call for salt and that is on purpose. Prosciutto is sufficiently salty and if you add salt to the chicken, it will be too salty. Prosciutto, in fact, is caused solely by salt, which is the agent with which dry cured meats are 'cooked.' So don't worry, your flavor is still going to be great without (added) salt.

On the prosciutto- try, if at all possible, to get very thinly sliced prosciutto. I have tried this with prepackaged prosciutto, which tends to be a little thicker than the variety you can get at the deli counter and the thicker prosciutto was excessively salty.

Heat some olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side, eat immediately, this is best when served hot. Enjoy! We gave our baby a few bites of this tonight and he liked it!

Arugula with Lemon Vinaigrette
Baby arugula
Parmesan (freshly grated or shaved)

Dressing:
2 Tbsp. lemon juice (fresh)
4 Tbsp. olive oil
pinch of salt
freshly ground pepper

I make all my salad dressings in a mason jar. I do NOT whisk. Why whisk when you can simply shake?! Ok, just put all the dressing ingredients in a jar, put on the lid, shake a few times and you are DONE. Dressing could not be easier!!! The added benefit of making the dressing in a mason jar is that you already have something to store it in, and because it's a container that closes tightly, you can put it on its side in the refrigerator and not have to worry about leaking. Mason jars are very handy! Definitely use fresh lemon juice. Fresh citrus juice tastes much different from bottled. For this lovely salad, just place some baby arugula on the plate, top with some freshly grated or shaved parmesan, then top with some of your delicious lemon dressing. Pairs wonderfully with the chicken saltimbocca! I personally think the acidity of the lemon dressing pairs nicely with the saltiness of the saltimbocca.

I hope this helps- I have heard from some of you that you would like more quick weeknight dinners that are still delicious and that kids might like, too. I don't know if kids will like this salad, but the chicken could be a winner with them!

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