Saturday, October 8, 2016

Prosciutto Wrapped Stuffed Chicken Thighs and Sides: Elegant Meal Two Ways

Prosciutto Wrapped Stuffed Chicken with Pesto Farfalle and Halved Tomato Medley with Balsamic Reduction

We all like to feel a little royal, need a little elegance and extravagance in our lives.  We work very hard each day and deserve a flavorful, memorable meal at the end of it all. With that said, the capital involved for that might not agree with the budget.  I have, however, a solution to that budget problem.  Chicken thighs stuffed with Italian cheeses, grated garlic, rosemary, Fresno chili strips, rolled and wrapped in salty prosciutto, seared and gently oven finished provide a tender, juicy and incredibly flavorful dish to make you feel like you are dining at a 5-Star restaurant. In this post, I serve the dish two ways, both with the same chicken, but two different sides. On a side note, this is also quite a popular wedding menu selection!  

Let's get to the recipes, shall we? 

Chicken thigh stuffing:
1 cup of shredded cheese, a mix of mozzarella, Fontina, Parmessan, Romano, provolone and Asiago

2-3 cloves garlic, grated

1 rounded tablespoon dried Italian parsley 
salt and pepper (to season the chicken thighs) 

1 large or two medium Fresno chiles, sliced into strips

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

In addition:

1 package of 4-6 chicken thighs

2 packages, or, 12 slices prosciutto

 Simple, clean, direct flavors.

Once the stuffing ingredients are ready, season both sides of the chicken and with salt and pepper.  Using a tablespoon, add some of the mixture, adjusting the amount of stuffing to the size of the thigh (some are larger than others in a standard package). Had I been thinking, I would have selected chicken thighs of uniform size and weight from the butcher counter. I chalk this one up to live and learn and adjust. Once stuffed, roll the thigh from the narrow, thinner end to the fuller end. Take a piece of prosciutto, place it on the open roll and wrap it.  I used two pieces of prosciutto, overlapping the two to cover the chicken and keep the stuffing inside. 

It is important to set up a strategic work station. 

Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. 

Roll the stuffed thigh from the thin, narrow end, top, to the wider end, below. 

In a skillet, sear the chicken thighs in two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat.  Place on a baking sheet with a rack or in a tin foil pan (I had some extras) or oven safe skillet and roast slowly at 300-degrees for twenty minutes. When poked, if the juices run clear from the thigh, they are done. 

Catering companies and restaurants oftentimes use chicken breasts for this, but I use chicken thighs because they are, when properly prepared and cooked, tender and retain their moisture and flavor. When I want something with this level of flavor and elegance, I always use chicken thighs. 

Now to the sides!  

The first side is an old favorite of mine to serve with chicken: pasta tossed with pesto. For this dish, I used one of my favorites, farfalle, also known as "bow tie" pasta. Now, I love basil pesto, but I will make pesto out of any greens, garlic, nuts, cheese and extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. I have yet to meet a pesto, hummus or chimichurri I did not like. 

Bring about four quarts of water to a roiling boil, add a generous amount of salt to the water once it boils, and stir.  It is the only chance you get to season the boiling pasta. When just about al dente, about eight to ten minutes, strain the pasta in a colander, add a tab or two of butter and a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to the pasta water pot, add the pasta back to the pot, add the pesto and toss the pasta to coat all of the pasta. Grate some parmigiano-reggiano over the pasta and continue to toss. Amazing flavors, herbal from the pesto, salty bite of the parm. Delicious!

I used a tomato medley (sizes, shapes and colors) for an anchor side, and plated the first dish with the pesto farfalle.  I drizzled the tomatoes with an aged balsamic with incredibly intensified sweet and tangy flavor; one of my favorites. I wanted the plate to have a cleaner look to it, but I could not help myself, I drizzled everything with it except the pasta.  The salty savory of the prosciutto and the sweet tangy of the balsamic reduction was a heavenly pairing.  

Side two is even easier! For a dinner for four, three tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, two tablespoons fresh rosemary, 2 cloves grated garlic, 2 cups cubed baby new potatoes (or yukon golds, either works very well) and salt and pepper.  I place the cubed potatoes in a bowl and add the ingredients, toss them in the bowl while the skillet (I use cast iron, usually) is preheating in the oven at 400-degrees.  I remove the skillet and add the potatoes and seasonings. Roast the potatoes for 20 minutes.  They'll come out golden brown and a little crispy. 

Oven ready!

I decided, last minute, to add a little more color and flavor to the dish, and I added a smear of sun dried tomato, garlic and roasted red pepper hummus to place the chicken on.  What a tremendous addition of flavor and fantastic texture and color. To balance the savory, salty flavors, as I mentioned above, I drizzled the balsamic reduction atop the tomatoes and chicken and garnished with tiny sprigs of rosemary. 

Either of these delectable, easy to assemble and cook meals will make you feel a bit royal, perhaps a bit Downton Abbey, being served a meal befitting an Earl or a Countess or Lady. Perfect for elegant dinner parties, weddings, anniversaries and special formal events. This is also perfect any time of year. Your loved ones and guests will take away amazing memories of deliciousness for years to come.  

Now, go cook for someone you love!

As always, Thank You for your time and consideration!