Sunday, July 21, 2013

Jumps in the Mouth!


That's what "saltimbocca" means, by the way.  I'm not sure why it means that.  Maybe because the combination of flavors in this dish are so yummy that your tastebuds are throwing the chicken around in your mouth and it feels like jumping.  Now that I think about it, I had that very sensation when eating this.  It was like the chicken was doing cartwheels in my mouth!

So what the heck is Chicken Saltimbocca?  Well, I'll tell you. Traditionally, it's an Italian dish that has a lightly floured piece of chicken with proscuitto ham and sage leaves and Parmesan cheese, and it's usually served in a Marsala wine and butter sauce.  The ham and sage are either stuffed inside the chicken or pounded onto the chicken.  I changed my version somewhat.  I love ooey gooey cheese melted on top of chicken, so I used Mozzarella instead of Parmesan.  I also stuffed spinach inside the chicken and used the sage in the sauce.  And, for the sauce, I used white wine instead of Marsala.  And, let me tell you, the sauce for this was so good that my husband raved about it all night.  He called all of his friends and family to tell them about this sauce.  He licked the pan out and nearly cried when the sauce was gone.  Okay, not really.  If you know my husband, he is all guy and not like that at all.  I just like to let my imagination get away with me.  But it really was divine and worth repeating.

What food "jumps" in your mouth?

CHICKEN SALTIMBOCCA
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 T butter (for the chicken)
One 8-ounce bag fresh spinach
2 T butter (for the spinach)
One 3-ounce package proscuitto, chopped
Flour for dredging
Seasoned salt (like Lawry's)
Black pepper
Garlic powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
1/4 C flour (for the sauce)
2 T butter (for the sauce)
1/4 C wine (for the sauce)
2 C chicken stock
2 teaspoons ground sage
Juice of half a lemon
One 8-ounce block Mozzarella, sliced

First, butterfly the chicken.  If you don't know how to do that, watch a YouTube video here.  Set the chicken aside.

For the spinach, drizzle some olive oil into a large skillet and melt in the 2 T butter.  Put the spinach in the skillet and cook, stirring continuously, until the spinach shrinks and wilts down.  Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Divide the spinach and the chopped proscuitto into the middle of each chicken breast.  Secure the chicken with three toothpicks each.  Mix about 2 C flour with some seasoned salt, garlic powder, and black pepper to taste.  Lightly dredge the chicken in the flour.  Heat the 3 T butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Put the chicken into the butter and cook until browned on both sides.  Lay the chicken on a sheet pan and lay slices of Mozzarella over the tops.  Cook an additional 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is done all the way through.  (A digital thermometer will help greatly if you're unsure.)

To make the sauce, drizzle some olive oil into the same pan you cooked the chicken in.  Cook the shallots and garlic over medium heat until tender.  Deglaze the pan with the wine and cook for about a minute or two.  Whisk in the flour and cook for about a minute.  Add in the chicken stock, lemon juice and sage.  Cook and whisk until the sauce is thickened and bubbly.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve the sauce over the chicken.  **Don't forget to tell your eaters to remove the three toothpicks before eating!

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