It seems I have a fetish for savory ingredients rolled into a strip of meat. The complexity of flavor in each bite of a rouladen or saltimbocca style preparation of meat is beyond comparison, and I’m a huge fan of complex flavors. Tonight I enjoyed a reckless take on saltimbocca (Italian: jumps in the mouth) that literally did jump into the mouth. Instead of the traditional ingredients of sage and proscuittio, this dish took advantage of the smoky notes of roasted Roma tomatoes and the tangy zip of balsamic marinated portabella mushrooms with a clean parsley finish. Garlic mashed potatoes were also involved, but they were totally overshadowed by the Saltimbocca-Nueva, I will still include instructions for their preparation.
This is a little complicated, but with practice you can pull this off in forty five minutes to an hour. (excluding the time it takes to bone and skin the chicken)
Assemble the following:
- Boneless, skinless chicken breast (Do like I did, and bone and skin it your self. It’ll make it that much more satisfying in the end.)
- Large portabella mushrooms
- Fresh scallions
- Roma tomatoes
- Red (or whatever) potatoes
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Marjoram (fresh is preferred, but is hard to come by)
- Swiss Cheese
- Never forget the olive oil, and black pepper
And do this with it:
- First, peel (or don’t peel them) and cube the potatoes and start them boiling.
- Finely chop some garlic and scallions (making sure to discard the roots, but not the bulb) and saute briefly with some olive oil. This should not get too hot, as you’re going to be adding it to the chicken, and you don’t want it to be so hot that it starts to cook the meat.
- As this “marinade” is cooking, cut the chicken breast laterally into two thin pieces and pound with your favorite meat mallet, until it’s tender and as thin as it can be without falling apart.
- Put the chicken in a container and pour in the scallions garlic and olive oil, then cover with fresh water. Set aside.
- Rinse your mushrooms and remove the stems (unless you like the stems) and slice paper thin.
- Saute the portabella slices with olive oil and lots of balsamic vinegar, until the vinegar has reduced by half and the shrooms are tender. Set aside, liquid intact so they can continue to marinate and absorb all that balsamic goodness.
- Preheat the broiler and slice the Roma tomatoes as thin as you can without destroying the tomato, and roast under the broiler with olive oil until the edges are crispy brown.
- By now the potatoes should be done, remove them from the heat and drain. (reserve some of the liquid if you don’t want to use milk to cream them up when you mash them)
- In the mean time coarsely chop more garlic and saute with butter. This will be added to the potatoes along with more finely chopped scallion greens (greens only, no bulbs)
- Mash the potatoes and blend in the garlic and butter, along with the scallion greens. Set aside.
- Drain the chicken, reserving the garlic and scallions to spread over the chicken breast.
- Layer the tomatoes, mushrooms, Swiss cheese and parsley on the flattened breast.
- Roll the mixture up into a cylinder shape, and place in a glass baking dish greased with olive oil or butter.
- Secure the rolls with tooth picks and drizzle with more olive oil
- Sprinkle with marjoram and black pepper, and reheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
While the oven is reheating, you have the perfect opportunity to clean up the huge mess you’ve probably made, just be sure you protect the chicken rolls from things like cats and splattering dish water.
- Bake the rolls for fifteen to twenty minutes. You really have to know your oven well for this, because you can’t use a thermometer to test the temperature of the chicken (it has all those other ingredients in it that will skew the reading) and you don’t want to cut into the roll, as it will ruin the final presentation, and release all those nice flavors into the oven instead of your mouth.
- As the rolls are finishing up put the heat back under the potatoes and add some milk and stir. Use medium heat so as not to scald the milk, that will ruin the potatoes.
- After the rolls have cooled for a minute, remove the toothpicks you used to secure them, unless you like surprising your guests with a stab to the roof of the mouth. The rolls should stay together in one piece with the toothpicks removed if they’re done all the way through.
- Remove the heat from the potatoes and plate. Garnish with parsley or carrots cut up into funky shapes, or whatever you can find in your fridge.
- It’s nice to cut one of the rolls in half and turn it upwards, so that a cross section is visible right away, making it that much more enticing, interesting and appetizing.
- Garnish the whole plate with finely chopped scallion greens, serve and enjoy!
- I use red potatoes almost always, and leave the skin on them when mashing. It adds color, and just makes the potatoes look more interesting, but if you’re using another kind of potato, judge for yourself whether or not to leave the skin on.
- Cilantro would have been really cool in lieu of parsley.
- I’ve found that when you can hear the chicken rolls sizzle from inside the closed oven, they’re nearing done. Like I said, know your oven well, getting these cooked completely can be tricky. If you are not in your own kitchen, or are unfamiliar with the oven, and don’t want to take chances on having uncooked poultry being served, you can cook the rolls in a covered pan on low heat, turning them regularly. This usually yields chicken that is tougher and more dry, but dry chicken is better than uncooked chicken. No one likes salmonella.
- It occurred to me as I was eating, that substituting veal or some other beef for the chicken would have been absolutely amazing. I think I’ll do that next time. In addition to the general amazing-ness beef would have added, using beef would mean less worry about wheter or not the meat was cooked all the way through, unless you have guests that don’t know how to eat red meat and insist on well-done. In the case of the “I want it well done” guest you can just cook the hell out of it, and let them deal with it after all, you tried, right?
- Yes, threre’s a huge empty spot on the plate that is just begging for some fresh green beans or roasted asparagus… but I was tired and hungry, and just didn’t feel like it.
- If you have large enough pieces of meat, you can use cooking twine instead of toothpicks to secure the rolls. It’s a pain in the ass, but if you soak the twine in basalmic vinegar or wine (for hours and hours and hours and hours), you’ll get these really neat bands of flavor and color across the length of the roll that add a really nice touch to both presentation and taste.