Friday, February 29, 2008

Some of my Favorite Things... Prosciutto

I thought it would be nice to have a regular feature on some of my favorite food things, whether they be ingredients, cooking methods, food shops, or kitchen gadgets & gizmos. Mt first topic is prosciutto, which is often referred to around London as simply "Parma ham." We eat a lot of this stuff around here... as a snack with cheese, wrapped around chunks of Galia or Honeydew Melons, in pasta sauces, crisped and crumbled over salad like bacon bits. It is definitely a regular item I plunk into my cart every or nearly every shopping trip to the local market. I am fussy about my must be quite lean and soft. I can't abide dried up shrively oversmoked prosciutto at all. Luckily for me, London is full of choices and much of the prosciutto I can buy here is very fresh and delicious. It is not cheap stuff, but not so exorbitantly priced that I can't buy it regularly enough to satisfy any craving. It is a favorite thing, and therefore, worth the splurge.

Here is something I have been making lately using prosciutto. It is an incredibly simple dish that I can make whether I have a migraine, or if I am half asleep, or otherwise completely worn out. It requires so very little effort and so much satisfaction. It is one of those wonderful recipes that is easily adapted to change without any major noticeable adverse affects. It isn't terribly unusual, many people make a variant of the same thing, but here is the basic recipe:

Chicken Dolcelatte
(serves 4)

4 skinless boneless chicken breast filets
salt and pepper, to taste
Dijon mustard
8 slices prosciutto or Parma ham or bacon
4 Tbsp soft flavorful cheese (such as Dolcelatte Blue cheese, Cashel Blue, or a seasoned Boursin works too)

Preheat the oven to 190 C.

Lightly oil a baking pan. Season both sides of the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, then brush tops lightly with just a bit of Dijon mustard. Take about a Tbsp size blob of cheese and press it on top of each chicken breast, then wrap 2 pieces of Parma ham around it, covering the cheese as best as you can. Bake the chicken, uncovered, until cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.

I always make these potatoes to serve alongside the chicken:

Savory Roast Potatoes

500 grams tiny roasting potatoes, cut into halves
Herbes de Provence or Italian Seasoning blend or Greek Seasoning blend,liberally, to taste
salt & pepper, to taste
extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 190 C. Toss the tiny potato halves into a roasting pan with sides and drizzle some olive oil over the top, maybe 1-2 Tbsp, just enough to coat them. Liberally sprinkle some herb seasoning over them, then a few grinds of salt & pepper. Toss well to coat. Bake 45 minutes to and hour, or until well roasted.

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