Tradionally Chicken Saltimbocca is made using sage and no cheese. The first time I made it, I didn’t have any sage on hand and stuck in some Port Salut cheese that needed using up. K loved it and moved my Chicken Saltimbocca to the top of his favourites… displacing even his long time favourite Tandoori Chicken. Chicken Saltimbocca is now one of our mainstay classy comfort foods. Since common knowledge dictates that one should not mess around with a successful formula, I have never altered my Chicken Saltimbocca recipe. If you wish to be more authentic, you could add some chopped sage with the garlic while making the pan sauce.
The proscuitto in this dish should be neither shaved, nor thickly sliced. Thick slices do not stick to the chicken and shaved slices will not cover the cheese. Just have the deli make thin slices for you.
Chicken Saltimbocca was my first foray into the realm of what is known as “fine cooking”. It holds a special place in my heart. And last night — at my recommendation — one of my best friends, Anu, who lives in Australia — made it for a surprise romantic dinner for her husband and he loved it too.
Yield: 1 serving
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Make-ahead note: The chicken can be prepped with the sage leaves and Proscuitto and refrigerated until ready for a few hours, while working on other parts of the meal.
This recipe is not difficult; the recipe looks long because I have included detailed instructions in technique so that the final dish comes out as you would see it on your plate at a fine Italian restaurant.
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast
Port Salut cheese
6 slices of Proscuitto, thinly sliced, cut into half through the middle
(6 sage leaves)
2 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
freshly cracked pepper to taste
2 clove garlic, chopped fine
1/2 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
2/3 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Cut the chicken breast at a diagonal into three pieces. This helps to keep the piece from the tapering part of the breast from being too small. Cover with a piece of cling wrap and using a meat mallet or the back of a heavy pan, meat the pieces to an equal thickness.
On the centre of the flatter side of each piece of chicken place (1 sage leaf and) a small bit of cheese -- enough to cover about a third of the piece on the chicken. Place two half-slices of Proscuitto over the cheese and press to stick on. Turn the chicken pieces over and sprinkle some freshly cracked pepper.
Heat a pan on medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil and heat until the oil shimmers. Place the chicken in the pan, proscuitto-side down and turn the heat down to medium. Cook in two batches if all the chicken does not fit in your pan at once. Pan-fry for 3-4 minutes. Turn the heat up to medium-high and flip the chicken over. Turn the heat back down to medium and pan fry for another 3-4 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside on a plate. Do not worry if some of the cheese oozes out into the pan. It will get incorporated into the sauce and will make the sauce more flavourful.
Add a touch more of oil if the pan is dry followed by the chopped garlic. Stir for 30-45 seconds or until the garlic is aromatic. Now add the dry-vermouth and scrape up the browned bits. When most of the vermouth has evaporated and the liquid in the pan looks syrupy, add the chicken stock and any juices released by the fried chicken to the pan. Turn the heat up to high. Stir occasionally while allowing the stock to reduce to an almost sauce-like consistency.
Add the cold butter, one tablespoon at a time, swirling it to make an emulsion. The butter gives the sauce a nice sheen. Add the chopped parsley to the pan.
Return the chicken to the pan. Coat both sides of the chicken with the sauce.