Hold a chicken in the air, Stick a deckchair up your nose
We always find ourselves in a conundrum whenever we have friends over for dinner, as you have to cater for everybody's tastes, allergy-compatibilities and foibles. Our dichotomy is a meal which is simple, tasty but also not boring. On Saturday we decided on chicken stuffed with homemade pesto, wrapped in prosciutto, served on a bed of fresh tagliatelle in a tomato, basil and oregano sauce.
Just like antipasto homemade pesto is superior and much more rewarding, than off the shelf pesto. A jar of pesto can cost between £1.20 for a supermarket own brand and £7.50 at the high end . Making your own pesto if you have a herb garden, can cost you pence.
You best thing about this meal is its flexibility. If you are short of time a jarred pesto will suffice or you can prepare the pesto a couple of days in advance if you know you may be under pressure on the day. Equally, you could substitute the prosciutto for bacon which most of us have knocking around in the freezer.
For the pesto:
- Large handful of fresh basil leaves
- Handful of toasted pine nuts
- 1 tbsp parmesan or Italian hard cheese
- 1 clove garlic
- Juice of half a lemon
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
For the chicken:
- 4 medium chicken breasts
- 8 sprigs of fragrant thyme
Take basil leaves, pine nuts, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil and Parmesan cheese (or any suitable Italian hard cheese) and blend until you have a smooth paste
- Take each breast, and with a sharp knife cut along the long side of the chicken almost all the way through so it can be folded out.
- Place a couple of teaspoons of your freshly made pesto in the folded out chicken breasts.
- Take two slices of prosciutto, place side by side, slightly overlapping.
- Put two sprigs of the thyme perpendicular to the prosciutto, then roll the around the chicken
- Wrap each of the breasts in cling film and leave in the fridge for an hour or two for the chicken firm up.
- Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180C/356F
- Heat a frying pan with a tablespoon of olive oil. Remove cling film and brown the chicken breasts for four minutes, turning over half way through.
- Place chickens in a roasting tin and cook the oven for 15-20 minutes.
We will cover the tomato sauce in the future. This was quite simple; chopped tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, oregano, fresh basil, finely chopped onion, halved button mushrooms, a chicken stock cube, sweetened with honey.
Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese and serve with a garden salad. Belissimo! Pavarotti himself would have had thirdsies!