“No matter what happens in the kitchen, never apologize.”—Julia Child.
I went into this endeavor with that quote in mind, certain of disaster.
My wonderful friends at BakeSpace.com came up with a really cool cooking project called Coast to Coast Cooking. In their first attempt, using Food Network’s Melissa D'Arabian’s 4-step chicken recipe, they all created their version and linked up to each others’ blogs. It was so much fun that they did it again, but with Paella. That time, they invited the blogless (including me) to join in and I was lucky enough to have Danielle (Cooking for My Piece of Mind) invite me to be a guest blogger. What a blast that was! It totally resulted in my own blog creation.
This month our mission was to create our own version of saltimbocca. This was just a little scary for me, since I had no idea what it was. Luckily, it is another recipe that has many different interpretations. Just skimming through a few recipes, I noticed that, for the most part, the only things that were constant were the use of sage and prosciutto. Much like every homework project I ever attempted in college, I was going to wing it!
Literally translated, saltimbocca means “jump in the mouth”. Most recipes I found used either chicken or veal. I know for certain that my friend Shane (Culinary Alchemist) will surprise us with another meat, but I, on the other hand, had to keep in mind that whatever I made had to be eaten by my family and prosciutto would have to be as exotic as it got. It was going to be chicken for me. I also decided that I would stuff the chicken with the prosciutto, some cheese and a little seasoned spinach. Then I would accompany the bird with some cavatappi topped with a creamy mushroom sauce.
I started out by flattening a chicken breast half with a rubber mallet. It helps not to get too aggressive here, as it rips the flesh of the chicken. I found this out, but I won’t apologize for it, hee hee. Then I placed a very thin piece of prosciutto, some thinly sliced pepper/jack cheese and the spinach. For the spinach, I just cooked a package of the frozen stuff, drained it really well (squeezed out the water), and mixed it with a little olive oil, a few dashes of lemon/pepper and some ground sage (shoot—why hadn’t I thought to buy the fresh sage?). I left out the salt because of the saltiness of the prosciutto. Then I rolled it up, tucking in the sides, much like an eggroll. I only did two, since it was Labor Day and I was making a traditional BBQ for the family. I didn’t want too many leftovers.
Next I dredged the chicken in flour, then in a beaten egg and finally in some Panko bread crumbs seasoned with a little parmesan cheese and lemon/pepper. I then heated some vegetable oil in a heavy skillet and quickly browned the chicken pieces on all sides. I put them in a pan and baked them at 350 ° for 45 minutes.
While the chicken was in the oven, I made the sauce. In a large skillet, I melted about 4 tablespoons of butter and a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Notice, I haven’t measured anything so far. I was indeed winging it. I sautéed a half of an onion, chopped, a package of sliced mushrooms and two crushed cloves of garlic. Then I seasoned all of it with about a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of Italian seasoning and some pepper. Oh, and I added about a ½ cup of dry white wine and some roasted red pepper slices from a jar. I let all of this cook down (it smelled sooo good!) and then I let it simmer while I cooked up the cavatappi. When, the cavatappi was nearly done, I added about a cup of light cream, a cup of parmesan cheese, and another splash of wine to the mushroom mixture and let it heat through. I stirred in the drained cavatappi and slapped my husband’s fingers out of the pan.
Finally, I sliced the chicken placed it on top of the cavatappi. Holy Cow!! This stuff was delicious. Thankfully, there was no need to apologize.
If you would like to see what my beeps (BakeSpace peeps, for the uniformed) created, here is the link:
Coast to Coast Cooking