This is my adaptation of a dish I saw Jamie Oliver prepare on Mark Bittman’s “Minimalist” web show. It is absolutely delicious, quick to throw together, and fun for the kids to help with.
Grab a youngster that has a little anger to vent, hand them a heavy pan or meat mallet, and let ’em go to town smacking down the split chicken breasts to a nice, thin paillard (cutlet). We used fontina, sage and proscuitto as toppings for these lovelies because that’s what we had in our fridge, but by all means, substitute different herbs, cheeses, or cured hams as you wish. Have a little iberico, or jambon de bayonne hanging around….they’ll be perfect. Shave some parmesan, romano, or grate some cheddar or gruyere, as long as your cheese melts well, it will work. For the herbs, thyme, rosemary, marjoram….you name it, have some fun with this dish.
Jamie is a bit of a hero of mine, totally dedicated to teaching people of all ages the skills to cook and feed themselves well. His food is not fancy, but it is not boring either. He focuses on using fresh, organic ingredients and crafts them into dishes that are easy for the average home cook to toss together in a modest amount of time, always yielding delicious results. I love his line at the end of the cooking segment with Bittman, he says “if you’re gonna eat three times a day, till the day you die, why not be good at it”
Young Muppet was recruited into whacking duty with my meat mallet, making short work of our clubbing the chicken into paillards. She was a little concerned that all of the “good stuff” would fall off the chicken during the course of cooking, but as long as long as you aren’t shy when you smack the ham onto the chicken (she wasn’t), the whole thing stays together beautifully, the melted cheese acting as a sort of delicious glue….much better than that white pasty stuff we used to all eat in grade school.
- Freshly grated fontina cheese
- 2-3 sprigs of fresh sage
- 1 skinless chicken breast per person, preferably free-range or organic
- freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt
- 1 lemon
- 3 slices of prosciutto per chicken breast
- olive oil
- Grate enough cheese to liberally coat each chicken breast, and finely mince the fresh sage leaves.
- Carefully score the underside of the chicken breasts in a criss-cross fashion with a small knife.
- Season the chicken with a little salt and pepper.
- Lay your breasts next to each other and sprinkle with the sage.
- Grate a little lemon zest over them, then sprinkle with enough cheese to coat them.
- Lay 3 prosciutto slices on each chicken breast, overlapping them slightly.
- Put a square of plastic wrap over each breast and give them a few really good whacks with the bottom of a frying pan, or a meat mallet until they’re about 1/2 inch thick.
- Put a frying pan over a medium heat, when hot, lightly coat the bottom with olive oil, remove the plastic wrap from the chicken, and carefully transfer the chicken breasts, prosciutto side down, into the pan.
- Cook for about 3 minutes on each side, turning halfway through, giving the ham side a little extra time to crisp up.
- Serve with some lemon wedges for squeezing over, and a good drizzle of olive oil.