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Cooking the Book: “Unstuffed” Chicken with Roasted Broccoli

2012 March 1

Upon reading this recipe, I was super excited to try it — all the flavors of saltimbocca with practically none of the work? Sign me up! And it was actually one of the first from the book I tried (but have been a little slow to post, I admit. No reason, just felt more compelled to post other stuff as I kept cooking). So I may have over-hyped it in my head a little bit, hence my moderate disappointment in the final product. I’m not rushing to make this one again, but I might think about it later, I guess.

On the up side, this recipe saves you a lot of the time and trouble of making saltimbocca, specifically the pounding — first of the chicken and then of the prosciutto ever so slightly into the chicken. The downside of that, however, is that the topping isn’t really attached to the chicken and the whole thing kind of fell apart in the eating process.

The Good

I do so love this flavor profile. And I’ve now got it in my head to use crunched up Ritz crackers any time a recipe otherwise needs buttery breadcrumbs, yum. The timing for cooking everything on one pan but giving the chicken a head start is a great technique I plan to employ in other recipes.

Roasting is an interesting new different way to approach broccoli, at least compared to the steaming I invariably subject it to. The sugar doesn’t really sweeten it; it paves the way for browning and caramelization. I’m a convert, though I can’t say the same for Mr. Kitchenette who said he appreciated the crunch but was neither here nor there on the roasting.

The Bad

Mayo isn’t much of an adhesive, as it turns out. From the very first cut, the prosciutto-cheese-crumbs layer slid off the chicken, sometimes taking the sage with it and sometimes not. Constantly reassembling the entree isn’t very fun, especially when the point of the dish is to get a little of everything in each bite.

Another gripe Mr. Kitchenette had with this dish was that one end of the chicken was crazy thick and juicy and the other was a little thin and tending toward the rubbery. The prosciutto helps keep it all-around moist, but perhaps it’s all better off with some pounding after all.

The Leftovers

Don’t skip the lemon wedges; a squeeze of lemon more than brings the dish together, it actually kind of needs it. Also, be prepared for quite a bit of clean up after butchering your broccoli. Bits everywhere!

Prosciutto and Sage “Un-Stuffed” Chicken Breasts with Roasted Broccoli

From Cooking for Two, 2011

Serves 2

Ingredients
2 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed

salt and pepper

1 Tablespoon mayonnaise

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh sage

4 thin slices prosciutto (about 3 ounces)

2 ounces sharp provolone cheese, shredded (about 1/2 cup)

7 Ritz crackers, crushed (about 1/3 cup)

1/2 bunch broccoli (about 12 ounces), crown and stalk separated, crown cut into large wedges, stalk trimmed and sliced into 1/2-inch thick planks about 3 inches long

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon sugar

lemon wedges for serving

Method

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees.

Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Arrange chicken breasts side by side, thicker end to thinner end, in center of rimmed baking sheet. Spread mayonnaise on chicken, sprinkle sage on top, and top each breast with 2 slices prosciutto, tucking ends under chicken. Top each breast with 1/4 cup cheese, sprinkle cracker crumbs over cheese and press on crumbs to adhere. Bake chicken for 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss broccoli with oil and sugar and season with salt and pepper. Remove pan from oven and, working quickly, carefully lay broccoli, cut side down, in even layer on baking sheet around chicken.

Return pan to oven and bake until chicken registers 160 to 165 on instant-read thermometer and broccoli is well-browned and tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Let chicken and broccoli rest on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.

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