Chicken Saltimbocca with a Sage Cream Sauce
One of my favorite recipes when I am have a few hours on my hands and the need for something rich and very tasty I turn to this recipe. I learned this method from when I worked at Stonewood Grill in highschool. The chefs there had a great recipe for veal saltimbocca. Although I did try the veal and it was pretty good, ( you have to try everything once ) I couldn’t get used to the idea of eating it with a regularity so I modified the recipe to use chicken instead. I found I enjoyed the chicken even more than the veal and without the guilt of eating a baby calf.
The word saltimbocca translates in Italian to jumps in the mouth and that is exactly what it does. This rich dish is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Traditionally the meat and sage are wrapped around each other but I like to add the sauce to bring the meat and rice together.
Here is what you need for a meal for four.
2 chicken breasts
1/2 cup of fresh sage (chiffonade)
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
Pinch of Salt
Pinch of Pepper
Oil for frying ( I used olive oil but you can use vegetable or grape seed oil )
Pint of Heavy Cream
Now that you have everything together, I always find in the best to make this one in stages. The first few times I made it I wanted to save time and get it ready as fast as possible but I found that if I was frying the chicken, making the rice and thickening the cream at the same time, the total result suffered. Usually the sauce burned or clumped. So I found it better just to take my time and keep the sauce for last.
Phase one: Chicken and Prosciutto
Take the chicken breast and after giving them a rinse and a pat down with a paper towel so that they are dry. (more about this later) Cut them with an inch thickness horizontally across the breast. You should be able to get 4 or 5 cut out of each breast.
Now it is time to pound out the chicken so it is nice and thin. This part is great for anyone with a temper because it takes a few minutes of heavy pounding to get all of the cuts to approximately 1/4 inch in height. Try to get each slice as even across the piece as possible. If they are uneven, there will be spots where it didn’t cook enough or spots that get too crispy.
Make sure to use Saran wrap when you are tenderizing the chicken. It is not exactly necessary, but it keeps any bacteria from being spread around the kitchen when you are hitting it.
Mix the flour with salt and pepper. Take the chicken and dredge it through the mixture. I found that when the chicken is drier the flour sticks to the chicken better overall.
Fry the chicken for 3-5 minutes on each side or until it is a light golden brown. Put finished tenders on a baking sheet and into the oven at 100 degrees F. This will keep the chicken warm while you are finishing the rest. (See below.)
Start the rice pilaf so that it finish about the same time as the sauce.
Drain the leftover oil out of the skillet and quickly lay the slices of prosciutto on the warm pan until they are lightly cooked. With the heat on low each slice should only take about 20-30 seconds to brown. Put the prosciutto in the oven with the chicken.
Phase Two: Sage Cream Sauce
The sage cream sauce is really the cherry on the top and brings all the ingredients together. Set the heavy cream in a medium saucepan on medium-low and whisk very frequently for about 15-20 minutes until the sauce has reduced to about half the volume. It is ESSENTIAL that you do not leave the cream alone for very long so that a film doesn’t cover the top of the sauce and it doesn’t boil. The sauce should stay just below simmering.
When the sauce is almost done, add the chiffonaded sage to the cream and let it simmer for about five more minutes. Turn of the heat and let the sauce thicken for a few minutes. To chiffonade the sage cut the leaf vertically in small strips. (See below.)
When the cream is thick enough that it sticks to the spoon it is ready. Layer the pilaf chicken, prosciutto and cheese and pour the sauce over everything. I use fresh mozzarella, but you can just as easily use pre-shredded cheese.
Now you have a great dinner that will impress your friends and bring you back for seconds.
I hope you enjoy! I would love to see pictures when you make it for yourself.