Friday, January 29, 2016

Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken with Asparagus Pesto Sauce

Last Year's Post: Hand Blended Loose Leaf Chai Tea
Two Years Ago:  Coq au Vin

Life as a food blogger has its ups and downs.  The downside happens when a recipe doesn't come out as you hoped, or it was a ton of work, or it tastes good but doesn't look like much.  But then there's the upside when a recipe is even more delicious than you thought, it's easy to make and beautiful to boot.  Happily, this is one of those because I had a spectacular (and expensive) halibut failure last week and was feeling rather traumatized but now I'm all better.  :-)

It's so spectacular, in fact, that I would suggest it for a special occasion dinner like a birthday, anniversary or Valentine's day - it's that good.  And it's fast enough to make on a weeknight - all you have to do it steam some asparagus, cook some pasta or rice to go with the dish, then cook the chicken and add the sauce at the end.  I was tempted to leave out the cream but after tasting it I wouldn't - it adds flavor and creaminess (duh) and it's only a 1/4 cup for four servings.

The recipe was so easy that I couldn't even think of all that many pictures to take of the process.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken with Asparagus Pesto Sauce
Serves 4

6-8 ounces asparagus, tough ends snapped off, cut into 1” pieces
¼ cup flour
4 chicken cutlets (or 2 large chicken breasts, cut in half horizontally to make 4 cutlets)
4 slices prosciutto
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup pesto
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ cup chicken broth
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish (optional)
Hot cooked pasta, rice or mashed potatoes for serving

Steam the asparagus pieces for 4-5 minutes (depending on the size of the spears this may need to be adjusted up or down) until crisp-tender, then run under cold water or shock in an ice bath to stop cooking.  Drain and set aside.

Put the flour in a shallow plate.  Pat the chicken cutlets dry, then season with pepper on both sides.  Lightly dredge both sides in flour and shake off the excess.  Wrap a piece of prosciutto around each cutlet and set aside.

Mix the pesto, cream and chicken broth together in a small bowl.  Set aside.

When ready to start cooking, heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken cutlets and cook for five minutes or until the cutlets release easily without sticking and are golden brown.  Lower the heat to medium, turn the cutlets over and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes until golden and cooked through.

Lower the heat to low and add the pesto sauce.  Simmer very gently for 1-2 minutes until the sauce thickens slightly, then add the asparagus.  Simmer for another minute to heat the asparagus through, then taste and adjust seasonings (remember the prosciutto is salty so go easy on salt in the sauce).

Place the cutlets with the asparagus pesto sauce over hot pasta, rice or potatoes.  Garnish with optional basil leaves and serve immediately.

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