A year ago this week I had chicken involtini for the first time. It quickly became my favorite chicken dish and one of my favorite things to eat overall. Since I’ll be returning to the scene of the crime this week I thought I’d share where you can get it, and more importantly, how you can make it.
If you find yourself in Chicago you could do worse than enjoy dinner at Harry Carry’s steakhouse. That’s where I was introduced to chicken involtini for the first time. They make theirs with roasted red peppers, prosciutto, in a bath of sage butter. I love it, you couldn’t go wrong making it the same way. The version I made tonight was a little different.
First, get yourself a boneless, skinless chicken breast. It’s the most boring piece of meat on the planet, and you’ll be turning it into a superstar in a few easy steps. And when I say easy, I mean it: this dish is dead simple.
Put it in a gallon zip lock bag and hammer the the ever-loving shit out of it with a tenderizer, rolling pin or heavy pan. You’re going for 1/4″ thick. When it’s evenly thin, let it rest on a plate with a liberal amount of kosher salt on both sides. Walk away. Have a cocktail. You’re going to let the salt break down the chicken for at least thirty minutes.
After it’s rested and the salt has been absorbed into the meat, you’re going to layer your ingredients onto the chicken like you’re building a small pizza.
First layer: two slices of provolone (substitute option: mozzarella)
Second layer: two slices of pancetta, (substitute option: prosciutto,)
Third layer: four pieces of basil (substitute option: sage)
Fourth layer: two slices of pancetta
Roll and wrap that up tightly with baker’s twine or something similar.
Heat your oven to 350 degrees, and heat a good pan on medium. When the pan is hot, melt a tablespoon of butter in it and add the chicken.
You’re only going to brown the outside of the chicken. Don’t worry about cooking it through. Just let it sit about three minutes on all sides, until it’s brown all over.
Insert an electric meat thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken. This step isn’t a requirement, but if you don’t have one of these I can’t recommend one more. Go to Sears or Target or get one online. Do it yesterday.
Pop the chicken into the oven. At this point I like to use a new pan, preferably a non-stick grill sheet. Have yourself another cocktail and wait. What you’re looking for is 165 degrees internal temperature on the chicken. If you don’t have a thermometer, it’ll be about twenty minutes.
As the chicken gets closer to done, prepare what you want to eat with your chicken. I like a good cheese and rice dish. Pasta is always good, with either a red or white sauce. Tonight I used a few tablespoons of a homemade tomato sauce.
Take the chicken out of the oven when it’s done, cut off the twine, place it on a bed of your side dish and enjoy.