The Valle d'Aosta, is a small region in the far Northwest of Italy, in the western Alps between Switzerland and France. This recipe is loosely based on a 2001 "Petto di Pollo alla Valdostana con Lenticchie Brasate" recipe published by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich.
- Preparation & cooking time: 90 minutes
- Makes 4 servings.
- Ingredients for the chicken dish:
- 4 chicken breasts filets, about 200 grams each (7 oz))
- 8 thin slices of prosciutto - enough to entirely cover one side of the chicken breasts after pounding them
- 8 slices of cheese (e.g., Gruyere) - enough to entirely cover one side of the chicken breasts after pounding them
- 4 tablespoons of tomato paste (1 small can or a tube of paste)
- Several tablespoons of all-purpose flour
- Butter and olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Ingredients for the lentil dish:
- 200 grams (1 cup) of lentils
- I prefer the small green round "French" lentils
- 500 grams (1 lb) of frozen, coarsely chopped spinach, thawed out and very well drained
- You will probably have to do quite a bit of squeezing to get most of the water out (about half the weight) - frozen spinach is mostly water....
- Do not use finely chopped or "creamed" spinach!
- 2 medium sized yellow onions, cleaned and diced (about 300 grams, 10 oz)
- 2 medium sized carrots, cleaned and diced (about 200 grams, 7 oz.)
- 1 celery stalk, the stringy fibrous "ribs" pulled off with a sharp knife (this is very easy - if the stalk is fresh and hard)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon chopped basil (dried is OK)
- 1/2 cube of beef stock
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon course-ground mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon (fresh) ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Salt and pepper
EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES
- Large sauce pan/pot
- Small sauce pan, preferably with a heavy bottom
- Large frying pan with lid
- I prefer a clear glass lid, so I can see what is going on in the pan
PREPARATION / DIRECTIONS
- Instructions for the lentil dish:
- Sweat the unions in some olive oil or butter
- Put the lentils, carrots, celery, and bay leaves in a large sauce pan
- Add enough water to cover the lentils by 6-10 cm (2-4 inch)
- Add salt and half a bouillon cube
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a slow simmer LID ON
- Cook until the lentils are almost tender ("al dente"), 20 to 25 minutes.
- Add water if the lentils begin to turn dry before they are done!!!
- Remove from heat, drain well, and remove the bay leaves
- Fold in the basil, garlic, onions, and spinach
- Season with pepper, salt, nutmeg, cayenne, garlic, and mustard
- Transfer to a skillet or large frying pan, and add some olive oil
- Put aside and prepare the chicken dish
- Put the skillet back on the stove, and heat up while stirring regularly
- Instructions for the chicken dish:
- Prepare the lentil dish, except for the last step
- Clean the chicken breasts: remove all fat, tendons, sinews, membranes.
- Remove the tenders; they can be treated like the breast meat.
- Season the pieces very lightly with salt
- Cover one side of each breast filet with a slice of prosciutto; trim, so not too much sticks out
- Put the breasts on a sheet of plastic kitchen film (wrap), prosciutto side up, and cover with kitchen wrap
- Pound the prosciutto into the chicken with your fist or the bottom of a small sauce pan
- Remove the plastic film
- Dredge the chicken breasts in flour to coat them lightly, then tap off any excess flour
- Pre-heat the oven to 175 °C (350 °F)
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet or frying pan that is large enough for all the meat
- Place the pieces of meat in the skillet, prosciutto side down and cook until lightly brown (do not overcook the prosciutto, as it will become tough), approximately 2 minutes; then turn over and brown the other side (about 3 minutes); make sure the chicken is cooked through
- Turn over the pieces (prosciutto side down again), and spread a thin layer of tomato paste over the top of each piece
- Season with fresh ground pepper
- Completely cover the pieces with the slices of cheese; trim, so not too much sticks out
- If the skillet or frying pan is oven-proof, put it in the oven under the broiler until the cheese bubbles and begins to turn brown (1-2 minutes; do not walk away)
- If the skillet is not oven-proof, then transfer the pieces to a baking sheet and broil them.
The chicken filets getting pan-fried and a double batch of the lentil dish
The cheese-covered chicken filets - before & after broiling
SERVING & GARNISH SUGGESTIONS
- Serve chicken and lentils immediately on heated plates
©2002-2016 F. Dörenberg, unless stated otherwise. All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this publication may be used without permission from the author.