Friday, October 23, 2009

Saltimbocca (or Saltinbocca)

Vesti la giubba,
la faccia infarina,
la gente paga e rider vuole qua
e se Arlecchino
s'invola Colombina,
ridi pagliaccio
e ognun t'applaudirà.

How do you like my commedia dell'arte? I could not believe this is just clipart. The Italian is an exerpt from "Vesti la giubba" from Leoncavallo's opera "I Pagliacci." The translation, as far as my Italian goes, is:

"Put on your costume,
powder your face,
the crowd has paid and they want to laugh here
and if Harlequin
seduces/steals Columbina,
laugh, clown!
And everyone will applaud."

Admittedly I am not a huge opera fan. I adore the arias but sitting through sung dialogue is not my cup of tea. This play, however, always makes me cry. For the storyline, go here

Now for cooking! The name of this recipe literally means "it jumps in your mouth," or "hops in the mouth" it's that delicious. My mom serves this with her fetuccine alfredo (recipe to be posted), and it is such a crowd pleaser. It’s one of those meals that looks like it took hours to make and really only took a small amount of time. She always made it when our parish priest came over for dinner, which made it difficult because I always wanted seconds, even thirds, and I had to make sure the guests got enough!

Several saltimbocca recipes do not bread the chicken. Some fry them in a pan (which is probably delicious but baking is definitely healthier) and many add a sage leaf in with the "stuffing" ingredients. Still other recipes serve the chicken with a carmelized onion or shallot sauce. However, I'm recounting this recipe the way my mother and grandmother do it, and I know for certain that it's so good that "salta in bocca!"

Buon appetito!


-4 thin-sliced chicken breast (the kind that are about ¼ inch thick)
-4 slices hard or Genoa salami or prosciutto
-4 thin pats of butter
-salt and pepper
-1 egg beaten, two if necessary
-1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs, more if necessary

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Take each chicken breast and salt and pepper one side. Lay a slice of salami/proscuitto on the salted side. Place a pat of butter over that. Gently, roll the chicken breast over the salami/prosciutto and make a little “chicken loaf” with the red meat and butter on the inside. Hold it shut by inserting a toothpick through it. Dip the chicken rolls into the beaten egg and then into the bread crumbs and coat it. Set each breaded roll into a baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until the rolls are browned and crunchy on the outside. I usually test it by cutting my own roll in half and making sure there’s no pink in the chicken, but if you’re good at telling when chicken is done, do it your way.

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