Sometimes you eat something and think, “Wow, this is so deliciously elegant yet simple, I wonder if I can make this at home?” This is a variation on a staple menu item at a restaurant we ate at fairly frequently when we lived in the Emerald City. They have a seasonal, rotating menu, so the fact that this is an anchor on their menu suggests that I’m not the only fan of succulent chicken wrapped in savory proscuitto. The presentation of the darker proscuitto wrapping around the chicken makes me think of an obi belted around a kimono turning something simple like a robe into something more exotic and stylish. Oh, and did I mention that it’s embarrassingly easy? But don’t worry, your dinner companions will shower you with praise and think how lucky they are that they
got to beta test made the shortlist for tonight’s dinner.
Easy peasy baby:
1) I’m not a fan of chicken thighs, can you make this with breasts? Of course, you will need to be more careful though as breasts are less forgiving and can get dry more easily. I like to use thighs cuz they have more flavor and since I de-fat (yes, I’m comfortable in my delusion that that’s a word) them, they’re not that much more caloric than white meat breasts. According to the USDA 3 oz of breast contains 170 calories (60 from fat) and 25 g of protein vs 210 calories (120 from fat) and 21 g of protein so while dark meat is more caloric, it’s only ~24% more so if you’re counting calories, go with the chicken breast and carry a meat thermometer in your pocket or go for the flavorful dark meat and cut back 10% on all of your portions (meat, side dish, and dessert).
2) Why finish the chicken in the oven, can’t you just cook it completely on the stove? Hmm, I’ve tried it both ways and since this is just a thick piece (either rolled up thigh or a fat breast), it’s easier to cook the interior without drying out the exterior by roasting it for 15-20 minutes. You could cover your pan and cook it on the stove but that tends to steam it so that your lovely savory proscuitto crust becomes rubbery 😦 Realistically, that 15-20 minutes will most likely be used to make your side dish anyway, so finishing it in the oven gives you a succulent, evenly cooked chicken that you don’t have to hawk over while you’re multitasking which is always a good thing in my book.
3) If you really want to make your chicken look nice, cut the proscuitto strips in half along the long side so you have two long, skinny strips. This will make a nice thin belt around the chicken. Why didn’t I do this? Um, I really like the taste of the crispy, salty proscuitto so I’m willing to sacrifice aesthetics for
gluttony taste in this instance.
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
4 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
4 slices prosciutto, paper thin
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 375F.
Lay chicken thighs flat like an open book. Remove veins and excess fat. Season with salt and pepper on side facing up only (the proscuitto is already salty so you don’t need to season the “outside” of the chicken).
Fold up thigh with the spices on the inside then wrap with a piece of prosciutto. The thigh will be small enough so that the prosciutto will overlap itself by a few inches and this will keep the thigh folded up.
In a cast iron skillet or oven-safe skillet heat oil over medium heat till aromatic but not smoking. Brown the chicken seam side (where the prosciutto is overlapped) down ~2 minutes. Turn over and brown the other side for ~2 minutes. Bake chicken in skillet in oven till a meat thermometer registers 165F ~15-20 minutes. Makes 2-4 servings (we eat less meat than most people so 1 thigh is enough with a side dish, salad, and dessert).