ZAKARIAN’S PROSCIUTTO-WRAPPED CHICKEN BREAST

One of the only shows I watch on FoodTV these days is The Kitchen, with Marcela Valladolid, Sunny Anderson, Katie Lee, Jeff Mauro,  and the one and only Geoffrey Zakarian. The crowd has great chemistry together, each person bringing something different and fun to the show. Zakarian offers that touch of class and knowledge, sophisticated without ever being obnoxious, a tricky line to negotiate. Recently he shared a recipe with his characteristic signature: elegant, complex, but not overly fussy.  Chicken breasts filled with ricotta,  wrapped in prosciutto, crisped up on the stove top and finished in the oven. A quick pan sauce beautifully crowned the dish, bringing capers to the party. I have a weak spot for capers, in case you did not notice yet…  As I watched him prepare the recipe, I could not stop thinking that the whole thing would be perfect for sous-vide.  And sous-vide was the path I took. It was O.M.G. delicious. With the most enthusiastic happy dance to go with it.  Of course, if you don’t have the Anova gadget, don’t let that stop you.  I give you the exact method used by Zakarian in the show. However, I tell you, the texture of the meat cooked at that magical 141 F for hours… was superb. Superb!

zakarian-chicken-breast

PROSCIUTTO-WRAPPED CHICKEN BREAST
(adapted from G. Zakarian)

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup (about 60g)  sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (divided)
150g ricotta cheese
4 tablespoons chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh sage
1 large egg yolk
salt and freshly cracked black pepper
9 slices prosciutto
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
1 shallot, finely diced
1/4 cup (60 mL) Verjus (or white wine)
1/2  cup (120 mL) chicken stock
1 tablespoon butter

If using regular cooking, heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Using a small knife, make an incision in the top rounded end of a chicken breast, cutting through the center and to the ends without breaking the sides, to form a pocket for the stuffing.

Combine 1/2 cup of the tomatoes, ricotta, walnuts, sage and egg yolk in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Using a spoon (or place the filling into a piping bag without a tip), stuff each chicken breast with 1/3 of the ricotta mixture. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then lay the prosciutto into sheets of three pieces each, and roll around each stuffed breast. Heat the canola oil in a large, ovenproof saute pan until almost smoking. Sear the chicken breasts on the seam side of the prosciutto, then flip and sear the other side.Transfer the whole pan to the hot oven until the center of the chicken registers 160 degrees F, about 15 minutes.

If using sous-vide method: wrap each piece in plastic, then seal in a foodsaver type bag. Submerge in a water bath set to 141 F for 4 hours. When the time is up, remove the meat from the package, dry well and proceed to browning both sides on the stove top.

For both types of cooking, continue to make a pan sauce:  remove the chicken from the pan, add 1/2 cup of the sun-dried tomatoes, capers and shallots and cook over medium-high heat for 1 minute to soften the shallots. Add the Verjus to deglaze the pan, the chicken stock and cook until reduced by half, then swirl in the butter. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Slice the chicken and serve with the sauce.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments: I had a bit of a tough time filling the chicken. First I tried it as recommended, without a tip in the piping bag, but my bag was too thin, not sturdy enough to force the filling in. I tried with a tip, but the largest one I had was not wide enough and kept plugging with the pieces of walnuts. Since I was going to wrap the pieces with plastic anyway, I ended up cutting a slit around the side, opening the meat like a book, then rolling the prosciutto around. During the sous-vide cooking, it all turned into a perfectly shaped package. If you have a sturdy piping bag, it should work well.

What I love about sous-vide is how flexible you can be with timing. I served this meal for dinner on a super busy Sunday, in which we had no idea when we would be ready to finally sit down to eat. I set the water bath at 3pm and knew that whenever we wanted to have dinner, it would be a matter of 10 minutes to sear the pieces, and make the pan sauce. I had side dishes already made, just waiting to be re-heated. Easy but very impressive dinner.  Meat was perfectly cooked, the prosciutto gets all crusty and salty and tasty. And the sauce… capers are the perfect addition.  Zakarian really knows his way around food, Iron Chef that he is. And his beautiful gray hair only adds to his charm. Partial? Me? You’d think?   😉

About that Verjus: If you don’t have it, use white wine or simply chicken stock.  I am getting more and more fond of its subtle flavor, the way it brings mild acidity to a sauce or dressing.  And, by the way, did you know that a little Verjus mixed with carbonated water is a fantastic drink? Elaine tried it first and raved about it. Some people add sweetener, but we both like it straight. I am very fond of carbonated water with drops of bitters such as Angostura, so I’m not surprised that Verjus pleased me so much.

But, I digress. This is about the Zakarian’s recipe, and you definitely need to try it!  Perfect for a dinner party, you can assemble the chicken before, sear it quickly and bake it. Your guests will be impressed, thinking you slaved away for hours. But truth is, you did not…

prosciutto-wrapped-chicken-breast-from-bewitching-kitchen

ONE YEAR AGO: Amazing Apricot Bars

TWO YEARS AGO: Spiralizer Fun

THREE YEARS AGO: Linguine with Cauliflower Pesto

FOUR YEARS AGO: Carriage House Apple-Walnut Pie

FIVE YEARS AGO: Chicken Marsala

SIX YEARS AGO:  Home, sweet home

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Levain Bread with Caramelized Onions

 

 

GOAT CHEESE-STUFFED CHICKEN BREASTS

Chicken breasts are often part of our week-night menu, so I’m constantly searching for new ways to prepare them. I adapted this recipe from Cooking New American, a compilation of Fine Cooking recipes that never seems to leave my kitchen.  Dinner was ready in less than 30 minutes, with an aura of sophistication and great flavors.  Not a bad to ending for a very frantic Wednesday…

CHICKEN BREASTS STUFFED WITH GOAT CHEESE AND SUNDRIED TOMATOES
(adapted from Fine Cooking)

3 oz. fresh goat cheese
1 Tbs. milk
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 Tbs. chopped sundried tomatoes
fresh oregano leaves (or herbs of your choice), minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine

In a small bowl, mash the goat cheese and milk together until smooth. Mix in the garlic, red pepper flakes, sundried tomatoes, and the oregano.  Season the mixture with salt and pepper.

On the thickest side of each breast, cut a long pocket. Using your fingers, stuff the goat cheese mixture inside,  closing by pressing the flesh together.  If you want, close with a toothpick.

In a large frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Cook the chicken on one side until golden brown, 5 to 6 min. Turn the breasts over, season with salt and pepper, and set a small lid on top of them (use a lid that is too small to cover the whole pan, but large enough to enclose the meat).  Continue to sauté until the chicken is cooked through, 8 to 10 more minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a warm serving plate. De-glaze the pan with the wine, scraping up any sticky bits until the liquid reduces to a glossy syrup. Drizzle the reduction over the chicken and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Joanne Weir, the author of the original recipe, says that “this recipe is fun to play with.”   She definitely has a point:  just keep the basic method of thinning the goat cheese with a little milk, then flavor this mixture in any way that you desire.   The presence of the filling, and the fact that the meat cooks under a lid for most of the time, prevents the delicate chicken from drying out.

Sometimes I browse forums in which single guys and girls with little cooking experience ask advice on what to prepare  for that special someone coming over for dinner.   This recipe is a perfect choice: simple, elegant, and light. A little pasta, a green salad, not much else is needed. Of course, wine, candles, and good music… 😉

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