Saltimbocca is an Italian dish that can be prepared in quite a variety of ways. Traditionally it’s made with veal. I prefer using chicken because it’s hard to get veal that’s “cruelty” free. After seeing veal cages, I decided I wouldn’t eat it anymore. There is some veal out there that’s “free range” and just killed before the cow is aged to about 1 year. Arguably better but still not something I want to eat. Ok, I’m putting away the soap box.
This Chicken Saltimbocca is made closer to the alla romana style. I use sage, prosciutto, and wine. I add in Mozzarella di Bufala for extra yumminess. Here is what you will need to make this dish:
1 chicken breast per person
1-2 slices of prosciutto per person
either 2 fresh sage leaves per person or dried rubbed sage
1 ball of Mozzarella di Bufala (this will make 4-6 portions worth)
1 cup of very dry white wine
Gluten free flour
Grass fed butter
EVOO, salt, and white pepper
A meat tenderizer is the only special tool needed
1. Take your fresh chicken breast and cover it loosely from top to bottom with one piece of saran wrap. Assess where you need to thin the breast. Use the flat side of the mallet to lightly pound the thick parts. You’re looking to have the whole breast about 1/4 inch thick all the way across.
2. Once you have all the breasts pounded, salt and pepper the breasts. Roll the breasts in flour as well until they dredged.
3. If you are using rubbed sage, dust a little into the breast or in the flour if you prefer a more robust flavor through the whole dish. I prefer keeping it in the breast so it doesn’t get too sage-y. If you are using fresh sage go ahead and skip this step.
4. Place one or two slices of the prosciutto in on one side of the chicken.
5. Add very thin slices on Mozzarella until you have most of the breast covered. It’s very important you do this on the same side as the prosciutto. You are going to fold the breast over so the ingredients are in the middle, essentially making a chicken “pocket.”
6. Take a frying pan with a lid and heat up a combination of oil and butter so you have enough in the pan to shallow fry the chicken. Use the smallest pan you have that will fit your breasts without overlapping or touching. This will reduce the amount of total fat going into the pan.
7. If you are using fresh sage, put it in now and “fry” it for a minute or so on medium high heat. Place on a paper towel to drain. You want 2 leaves per chicken breast.
8. Place the chicken pockets in the hot pan on medium high. Let the chicken brown properly. Let it sit in the pan for a good 5-8 minutes without flipping it. You want this to be nice and golden and almost cooked through on this side completely.
9. Flip the chicken, let it get a little color at this heat for 2-4 minutes. Then turn it down to medium and cover the pan. You will only need to have it on this heat for 3-5 minutes if you have the thickness correct. We just want to finish the cooking gently so we don’t overcook. Plus, we need the cheese to melt and the chicken will get a little steaming action to do just that.
10. While the chicken is finishing, take your white wine (about a cup) and mix it with a little flour. This will thicken the pan sauce. If you are worried about the opacity you can use cornstarch or arrowroot for a clear glossy sauce.
11. Move your chicken to a plate and tent it with foil. Decide if you are keeping all the fat. I always do but I’m using very little to shallow fry, it’s just above a saute if done correctly. Put the heat up to high for about 30 seconds and then pour in your wine slurry to deglaze.
12. After about 10 – 30 seconds on high, turn it down to a low simmer and give it a good whisking. If you like you can lift the sauce with a pat of cold butter to make it really silky and thick. Add in half of your fresh sage and the chicken along with any juices on the plate. Let them rest in the sauce with the heat off while you get your plates or a serving platter.
13. When plating, place one leaf of sage on each breast. Serve with a green salad or green beans. Bread or mashed potatoes or creamy polenta all work well with this if you desire a starch.
As for wine, I like to use a Trebbiano like I did here or a very dry Pinot Grigio to make the sauce because they both usually have strong lemon notes. Then just take the rest of the bottle to the table for a perfect match!