Hello friends and strangers, long time no see. It has been a busy year for me with a lot of upheaval. I’ve moved twice but have finally settled in my new forever home. In the new place I have an actual kitchen, a huge upgrade from the tiny little galley I have been cooking in for the last few decades.
This alone makes me enormously happy as, obviously, I am a foodie twat. Why else would I be writing this? In between moving out of my old home and moving into my new home, I had the great good fortune to be offered a place to stay with some friends who had enough space to accommodate me without fear of driving each other mental. It was here that I discovered this simple but delicious dish which became a firm summer favourite.
I know it is not the kind of food people might be thinking about in the run up to Christmas but, as I am not a fan of the traditional turkey and ham dinner that is so beloved in Ireland, I am strongly considering having this for my Christmas Day main meal. Chances are I will be alone on the day thanks to the new Omicron variant currently running rampant around the world so Chicken Saltimbocca is an easy meal to make for one and will easily scale up to feed 4 or even 6 people. I wouldn’t recommend it if you are obliged to feed a multitude, best stick with a bird the size of a small child.
All the ingredients are easily sourced in your local supermarket despite the current global supply chain issues.
Which reminds me, I have yet to find tomato juice for my festive Bloody Mary, which is a bit worrying!
I’ll write this recipe for two, it can easily be halved or doubled or even tripled if you have a big enough pan and a talent for juggling.
- 2 boneless chicken breast fillets
- 1 tbsp fresh sage finely chopped
- 4 whole fresh sage leaves
- 4 thin slices of prosciutto or parma, or speck, or similar
- 1 large shallot or small onion
- 1 heaped teaspoon of plain flour
- 120 mls of chicken stock
- 100 mls of dry white wine or vermouth
- 1 generous tablespoon of butter
- Some chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tbsp of lemon juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper
As the friends I was staying with had a good variety of edibles growing in their garden, I had access to fresh herbs all summer which was wonderful. I know buying packets of fresh herbs is expensive and often wasteful but I suspect for this dish the investment is justified. I haven’t tried to make it with dried sage but it would probably be ok if you had no other option.
I pound the chicken breasts until they are perhaps one centimetre thick-ish. This helps the breasts cook evenly. As ever, be careful with hygiene, put the breast in a freezer bag or between layers of cling film while you bash it into submission.
Season each breast with salt and pepper and a dusting of the minced sage. Press a slice of prosciutto on to the breast and finish off with a whole sage leaf. This can be kept in place by pinning it with a wooden toothpick. I do this on both sides of the breast but that is my own preference and not absolutely necessary.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, carefully add the prepared breasts and fry for around 3 minutes on each side until cooked through. Remove the cooked chicken to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
And so to the sauce, this sauce is so good I tend to make more than necessary by just adding a little more of everything that I mention below! If there is a lot of oil left in the pan pour some of it off so there is around 1 tablespoon left, add the finely chopped shallot or onion and fry for a couple of minutes until softened. Stir in the flour and cook for one minute, this will help thicken the sauce. Whisk in the wine and the chicken stock, making sure to scrape up any of the delicious flavourful bits that may have stuck to the pan while frying the chicken. Bring it up to a simmer and cook for four or five minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened to your liking.
Lower the heat and stir in the butter, parsley and lemon juice. Return the chicken to the pan along with any juices that may have collected on the plate. Simmer for a minute or two so the chicken can heat through.
And that is it. Serve with potatoes cooked how you like them and a green vegetable, be sure to divide the sauce evenly as there could well be a fight over it, it’s that good! Try it and I promise you are in for a treat. It is another of those dishes that tastes way better than its simple ingredients would suggest.
N.B. In between writing this recipe and posting it I found Tomato Juice for my Christmas Bloody Mary. Hurrah. In a large tumbler I put a lot of ice and a generous amount of vodka and top it up with tomato juice. A good glug of Worcestershire sauce and daring dash of Tabasco are next in. Top it off with a grind of fresh black pepper and stir with a stick of celery. I tend to munch the celery stick as I drink it, so it's practically a salad!
Great to have you back, competent chef!