Sunday, February 27, 2011

Chicken Saltimpanda

I was going to begin this post with "I've never had sage", but before I even got there I was informed that I have, in fact, had sage. Apparently the wonderful Mrs. Ballard, my almost-mom from South Carolina, puts sage in her Thanksgiving stuffing, which I've not only had but loved. I can safely say, however, that I've never cooked with sage before now. I was excited when I decided to make saltimbocca (original recipe here) to get the chance. 

I was not prepared for sage to be fuzzy. I mean, I knew it was going to change texture when it was cooked, but I found the fuzziness really off-putting. I also wasn't hugely excited about the aroma of it. 

Er... hmmm.

Then there was the lemon issue. I mean, if you look at the original recipe link, it does specify that it is "lemony", but I'm not sure I was prepared for quite that much lemon. Don't get me wrong- I love lemon. In fact, I love lemon so much I made a little song about how much I love things lemony. (Disclosure: I make up little songs about pretty much everything that makes me happy. Can't help it and no I won't sing any of them for you. Except maybe the cheeseburger song. But not right now.) Anyway, it was too much lemon, which really took away from the flavor of the ham. And it turns out I don't like the flavor of sage either (unless it's in Mrs. Ballard's amazing Thanksgiving stuffing). 

But I really liked the idea of the saltimbocca. Ham? Chicken? (Some) lemon? This all sounds fantastic! Surely I could find a way to make this work.

So I changed a few things around and decided to make Saltim-panda! I used tarragon instead of sage. Tarragon is one of my favorite herbs. It has a slight anise flavor, which is quite different from the tart sage flavor. I also cut the sauce with a sweet white moscato wine, which emphasized the lemons without letting them overpower the ham. To accommodate the extra liquid, I doubled the cornstarch (I had found the original sauce too runny anyway). I also added capers. Cause why not?

Chicken breasts
Salt & pepper for seasoning
3 tablespoons olive oil
Fresh tarragon 
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 white wine
1/2 chicken broth
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Start off by pounding out your chicken so it's flat as possible. If you don't have a mallet, use anything solid and heavy. I used our sugar jar. Oh yeah, wax paper keeps things from getting messy. 

Layer the chicken breasts with fresh tarragon. 

Then wrap in pancetta. Place chicken breasts in a saute pan with olive oil that has gotten nice and hot. Cook about 3-4 minutes on each side. 

It's possible I got a little ham-happy.

While the chicken cooks, combine the wine, broth and lemon juice in a bowl with the cornstarch. Whisk together and then add a few shredded tarragon leaves and the capers. When the chicken is done, remove from the saute pan and set aside (preferably someplace warm, cause my chicken kept getting cold while I was making the sauce). Add the broth mixture to the saute pan and bring to a boil. Boil for one minute while continuing to stir. 

Let sauce stand for approximately one minute until it thickens, then pour over the chicken breasts and serve.

Was Saltim-panda better than the original saltimbocca in the end? I think this says it all....

No comments:

Post a Comment