I had a good friend from high school (@ryanstewart) over for dinner last week and I wanted to make something from the America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook. It was also a work night so I didn’t have a lot of time to toil over a hot oven.
I had honestly never heard of this dish, chicken saltimbocca, before I read about it in the cookbook, but it looked perfect for my meal:
The idea behind the dish is that you have a nice chicken cutlet that is lightly floured. On top of that cutlet you have a slice of good prosciutto that has been seared onto the cutlet so they become one. The prosciutto forms a crispy layer of awesome on top of the chicken and the whole thing is flavored with some fresh sage.
I served mine with sauteed mushrooms and wilted kale.
1) If you are starting with whole chicken breasts, cut them in half horizontally, then pound them out until they are an even thickness. One breast will make two cutlets.
2) Dry off cutlets well with a paper towel.
3) Dredge cutlets in flour and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle diced sage on top of each cutlet.
4) Press one large piece of prosciutto onto each cutlet over the sage. Press down on it so the prosciutto sticks to the cutlet.
5) Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add cutlets, prosciutto side down first. Cook for 4-5 minutes on that side and flip. The prosciutto should be browned and adhered to the chicken.
6) Cook on the second side until the chicken is cooked through. Once cooked, you can transfer the chicken to a warm oven to keep warm while you finish dinner.
7) Turn heat down to medium for your skillet that you cooked the chicken in. Add white wine and lemon juice and use the liquid to scrape up any bits stuck to the pan.
8) Let the sauce simmer for a few minutes and then stir in butter, one tablespoon at a time. Add chopped parsley right at the end.
9) Serve chicken drizzled with sauce. Serve with any veggies that you want.
Recipe adapted from The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2009.
There is a lot that can go wrong with this meal. You need to make sure your chicken is an even thickness and that you don’t over flour and that you don’t have too much prosciutto…etc. Because I was in a rush for this recipe, I bought the cutlets already made, however, I usually make them myself.
If you want to make your cutlets, get a chicken breast, slice it in half horizontally, and then pound it out using something heavy until it is an even thickness. One breast makes two cutlets. Or you could buy them already made, but they cost more.
Very important: Dry off your cutlets with a paper towel. You don’t want a lot of extra moisture on them or you will get a thicker layer of flour. We aren’t making fried chicken tonight. We are going for a thin dusting of flour.
Dredge your cutlets through the flour, hit them with some salt and pepper and then sprinkle that diced fresh sage on top. This will infuse that sage flavor with each bite.
Next, get your prosciutto and lay one slice on top of each cutlet on the same side that you sprinkled the sage. Make sure to get sliced prosciutto and not shaved prosciutto. That will be too thin. Try to trim off any pieces that hang over. And don’t use more than one slice. This stuff is plenty flavorful.
Press down on it so it sticks to the floured cutlet.
Now heat up the oil in your pan to medium-high heat. If you are trying to impress, get your whole sage leaves and toss them in the oil for literally 10 seconds. They will fry up quickly and get a bit crunchy. Remove them quickly though.
Next, was the part I was really worried about, but I had faith in the cookbook. It said to cook the cutlets prosciutto side down first. This gave me some concern.
I was really worried that the prosciutto would stick to the pan and not the chicken, but I think that little layer of flour between the two worked as a perfect binder. About 4-5 minutes on one side and then flip it over and you should see:
I was no longer stressed about the recipe at this point. But I did need to get my ingredients ready for the very simple sauce.
As soon as your chicken is done (4-5 minutes per side should do it), transfer them to a warm oven (200 degrees). The cooking is done, we are just keeping them warm.
With your pan still on medium heat, pour in your white wine and lemon juice. Try to scrape up as much of the particles of food as possible. That stuff is all flavor.
Let this simmer for about 4 minutes and then stir in your butter one tablespoon at a time. After simmering for a few more minutes you should have a very flavorful light sauce. Add your chopped parsley right at the end.
I drizzled my sauce over the chicken saltimbocca and then topped it with the fried sage just for some WOW factor. It also happens to be delicious.
This meal is one of those rare dishes that can really impress, but is actually pretty straightforward (and quick) to make if you have the right instructions. I think I was able to get it right on the first try and I bet you can too.
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