Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ricotta Stuffed Chicken Breast Wrapped in Prosciutto

After trying to enjoy what nice weather we have left, I have been gone out of the house for quite a few days now so nothing has come up here. Back in the saddle again now.

I believe we will be getting snow sometime very soon again after the little snow fall we had a week or two ago. I couldn't even take O outside for her first snow experience as she was sick for a couple of weeks with a runny nose. She's all better now finally. Our Kleenex bill will go down immensely now.

I made this dish for the first time about 6 years ago. Mrs. Urban Eater likes to have it a couple of times a year so I usually oblige. The reason why I keep making it (besides the requesting of it) is because the flavours which come out of it are rather nice and tasty. Nothing overpowers any of the other flavours, they all just blend equally. The lemon zest and juice comes out a little strong, but is met equally by the taste of the basil. The chilies then step up to add a bite of their own and the smoked paprika adds a nice finish. The various levels of flavour in this recipe can be changed around by using other ingredients, but tonight I wanted a little heat with it. I also didn't feel like using spinach, so I used fresh basil instead for the green element in the stuffing. This is an easy dish to play with. The stuffing can be modified very easily.

Ingredients

3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 tbsp shredded fresh Parmesan cheese
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
8 very thin slices prosciutto

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine first 8 ingredients in a bowl. Take a piping bag, if you have one, and put the ricotta in it. If not, use a Zip Lock bag, cut one corner off or just use a spoon.

2. Remove the tenderloin from the chicken breast. I also remove the tendon from the tenderloin as I don't like the chewy bits when I eat chicken. Cut a horizontal slit through thickest portion of each breast to form a pocket.

 
3. Pipe or spoon about 1/3 cup of the ricotta mix into each pocket. Finish this by folding the tenderloin in half and stuffing it carefully into the entry hole of the chicken breast.
 
4. Lay 4 pieces of prosciutto out, slightly overlapping each other, and carefully wrap each breast, in a single layer, with the prosciutto. 
 

5. Place chicken on a cookie sheet and into the oven. Cook for approximately 20 minutes.
Yield: Serves 2


Sorry about the last pic. I don't think it turned out that great. Little O was trying to take the tripod away from me as I was taking it. I admire her for wanting to help, but when the help consists of slamming the camera on the tile floor, I think I'll wait to ask her to help me for awhile.

As you can see, I served this over steamed asparagus and sweet potatoes. The 4 small sweet potatoes were cubed, steamed and mashed along with a tablespoon of finely minced Spanish onion, 1 minced clove of garlic, 2 tablespoons of Parmesan, a pinch of chilies, salt, pepper and EVOO.

As I mentioned earlier, the stuffing can be modified very easily. Chicken is good to work with in that regard. It will take the flavours around it and soak it up very nicely. You could use limes instead of lemons, or rosemary, thyme and parsley instead of the chilies and smoked paprika. I actually use a lime with this recipe normally, but this time I used a lemon. I used what I had, that's all. I always make sure I have a little bit too much stuffing. I don't want to come up short.

The cooking time will vary on this as it depends on how cold your stuffing is. If you make the ricotta mixture and stuff the breasts ahead of time (then refrigerate, of course), this will make the interior of the breast colder and make the cooking time slightly longer. Keep your eye on that. You don't want to spoil a nice dish like this by not completely cooking the chicken.

Little O's Menu

We decided to start eating together as a family now. O is eating at the same time as us instead of before. This is a good thing for her as she is starting to eat more of what we eat on a regular basis and it saves Mrs. Urban Eater and I a lot of time and allows us to eat earlier. Besides, it is time for her to start to understand the importance of sitting down with your family to eat a meal together everyday. I believe this is an important step for young people so they can learn the social side of what food is about. Food is more than just something which you put into your mouth: it is a vehicle which brings together people, cultures and ideas. I am a firm believer to which everyone should look at it this way. There is a reason why food has it's own TV network you know (actually two). I used to say I don't travel very much, but I cook food from all over the world instead. This was my form of experiencing different cultures on a budget.

This past week, O has been dining on bananas, apple sauce and cinnamon with yogurt for breakfast, and now likes to eat banana chunks on their own. This is a good way for her to learn how to eat by herself, but the chunks can be hard to pick up and she can get pretty frustrated. A little help from the big people in her life is always welcomed. Chunks of whole grain toast with cheese or almond butter is getting to be popular as well. Kiwis have also been making a regular appearance in the yogurt at least once or twice a week.

Lunch and dinner has been pretty standard with a mixture of broccoli, Hubbard squash, asparagus and zucchini with the regular sea salt, pepper and EVOO. She is always interested in what we are eating as well, so she reaps the rewards of sticking her hands near our plates to show her interest. She has been seeing chicken, asparagus, yams, salmon and even olive pate`! Who knows how long she will tolerate the various flavours and textures on her palate. Hopefully it will stay this way and never change.

Foodie Happenings

- Hey, hey! It's British Sausage week from November 1-7 - http://www.lovepork.co.uk/. Shouldn't this be a national holiday or something??
- Novemeber 2-7 - Italian Cuisine World Summit - http://www.itchefs-gvci.com/
-  November 3-7 - Denver International Wine Festival - http://www.denverwinefest.com/
  November 4-6 - 13th Annual Worlds of Flavor Int'l Conference & Festival - http://www.worldsofflavor.com/
- November 4-7 - The  Big Sur Food and Wine Festival - http://www.bigsurfoodandwine.org/
- November 4-14 - Mendocino Wine & Mushroom Fest - http://www.visitmendocino.com/festivals-events 
- November 5-6 -  Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival - http://www.rockymountainwine.com/

These are just a few of the festivals going on right now in the world. If you get the chance to go to one in your area or you want to travel to one, do it. It's always good to see what your city has to offer and it could open your eyes along with your mouth to what is going on in any region other than your own.

Quote of the day:

"A bum told me "I haven't tasted food all week." I told him "Don't worry, it still tastes the same!" "
- Henny Youngman


Until next time, good eating everyone.

Mark

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