How many of you cookbook collectors out there picked up a copy of The Silver Spoon last year only to leave the behemoth languishing on your bookshelf to gather dust. I confess that I did.
The massive tome, dubbed Italy's version of The Joy of Cooking, is omnivorous, taking in anything and everything from traditional regional pastas like Liguria's pansotti to riso al cury con gamberi ("rice with curry sauce and shrimp").
I recently hauled the big book down from the shelf, and while leafing through it came across a simple recipe for involtini di pollo alla salvia, chicken breasts rolled with sage and wrapped in pancetta. There's no no end to the possibilities for rolling (and no less than 22 involtini recipes in The Silver Spoon), but this is a particularly inspired combination. And, how could you go wrong with anything that's wrapped in bacon?
Kitchen Notes: The addition of mushrooms here is not in the original recipe. I used oyster mushrooms, but you could use any combination of wild mushrooms. The directions in book call for cooking the chicken in the pan while covered for 20 minutes once you have browned it on all sides. This went against my usual technique of browning and then slipping the chicken into the oven to cook through. But, I followed the recipe, and it worked well (though I would like to try the other method in the future). Finally, I used very thinly sliced pancetta, which was on the verge of falling apart by the end of the cooking process. Next time, I would try it sliced thicker.
Involtini di Pollo alla Salvia (Chicken Breasts Rolled with Sage and Wrapped in Pancetta)
Adapted from the The Silver Spoon (Phaidon Press)
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
12 fresh sage leaves
4 ounces sliced pancetta
two handfuls of oyster mushrooms, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1. Butterfly and pound each chicken breast with a mallet until thin and season with salt and pepper.
2. Lay two sage leaves on each breast and then roll each.
3. Lay a sage leaf on top of each roll and cover with the pancetta slices. Insert toothpicks to hold the rolls together.
4. Heat a pan to medium high, add olive oil, and when hot, add the chicken, browning on all sides.
5. Turn the heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until done (add a little water of the pan dries out).
6. Remove the chicken to a plate and remove the toothpicks, pour off any fat that remains, heat to high and saute the mushrooms, scraping all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan as they cook.
7. After two to three minutes, when the mushrooms have become tender and golden, spoon them over the chicken rolls.