Sunday, October 18, 2015

Chicken Saltimbocca

Considering it’s October, I am amazed that the sage in my garden is still productive.  The leaves aren’t as vibrant as those that love the bright summer sun but they’re just as flavorful.  I planted it a while ago and it just keeps coming back, year after year, growing and coaxing me to add a savory zip to both hot and cold dishes!

It was my turn to cook last week and as I thought about what to make, rewarding the sage plant for its diligence and perseverance seemed fitting.  So I did a quick search for a chicken and sage recipe and Chicken Saltimbocca appeared.

It’s a NYTimes Cooking recipe and I haven’t made or tasted anything from NYTimes Cooking that wasn't fantastic!

Saltimbocca is Italian for “hops in the mouth”  and with the chicken, marinated in olive oil or wine, spices, prosciutto, sage and cheese, the flavors of this dish truly do hop in your mouth!  Veal or Chicken Saltimbocca is believed to have originated in ancient Rome during a time when the swanky rulers would host elaborate feasts, featuring meats, spices, cheeses and wines abundant in the area, to showcase their riches and wealth.  There are many different versions of Saltimbocca recipes but I like this version from NYTimes Cooking because it’s quite tasty also also relatively easy to make. Basil is sometimes substituted for sage but I think the sage gives this dish less sweet, more earthy flavor that is so incredibly satisfying and downright good! The recipe calls for garnishing the dish with some fried sage leaves and they provide a welcome and crispy surprise.

We had a bonus dinner crew gathering last weekend…it was a girl’s weekend at the shore and, continuing on the Italian theme, we made homemade pizzas.  Look how stunning:
Traditional Margherita

Fig Jam, Caramelized Onions and Parmesan Cheese

Sautéed Mushrooms and Manchego Cheese

All three were delectable and devoured in no time flat!  

Our salad featured freshly-harvested greens from M.'s garden....just so delicious.

And for dessert, A. made the most often viewed and wildly popular recipe in NYTimes history, Plum Torte. Again, delicious and just as tasty with a cup of tea for a quick mid-morning snack.

The next day, we strolled along the Block Party in downtown Ocean City.  It was a delightful day -- quite crowded -- and we all walked away with some goodies, including some to satisfy our appetites, like this soft shell crab cake sandwich from IKE's.  Yum.

Chicken Saltimbocca
by:  NYTimes Cooking

1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breast cut into 4-ounce pieces
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon chopped sage, plus 24 large sage leaves
2 garlic cloves smashed to a paste
1 pinch red pepper flakes, optional
Olive oil
6 thin slices proscuitto
6 slices fontina cheese (about 4 ounces)

Using a meat mallet, pound the chicken to flatten a bit. Salt and pepper each piece on both sides and place on a platter. Sprinkle with chopped sage, garlic, red pepper flakes (if using) and olive oil. Massage in the seasoning to distribute, cover and marinate at room temperature for one hour, or refrigerate for up to several hours.

Heat a wide skillet over medium heat and add 3 tablespoons olive oil. When the oil looks wavy, add the sage leaves and let them crisp for about 30 seconds. Remove and drain.

Brown the chicken breasts in the oil for about 2 minutes per side, then transfer to a baking dish large enough to fit them in one layer.

Top each piece with 2 sage leaves, a slice of prosciutto and a slice of fontina. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling. Garnish with remaining sage leaves.  Serve with spinach sautéed in olive oil, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes and a pinch of nutmeg!

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