Friday, June 4, 2010

Challenging Conventional Cooking Practices!

Tonight we took on the accepted 'norm' in cooking circles. We laughed in the face of danger, we confronted the terrifying task we...okay, all we really did was cook prosciutto. However, when nearly every cooking outlet out there refers to prosciutto as "Thinly sliced ham, served uncooked" or tells you to "avoid cooking or heating prosciutto" and then you read a recipe that tells you TO cook it, you get a little nervous. Nevertheless, we took on the daunting task of cooking the food no one says to cook - and the end result was fantastic.

The Recipe: Parmesan Chicken Breasts With Crispy Posh Ham
Original Recipe Found In: Jamie's Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals

What You'll Need:

2 X Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
6 Slices of Prosciutto
1 Lemon
1 1/4 Oz. Grated Parmesan Cheese

Begin by scoring the underside of your chicken with a small knife. (You will want to cut a hatch pattern, like pictured below).

Next, cover the chicken with a small square of plastic wrap (or - a Ziplock baggie - which we opted to use) and beat the bugger with a frying pan. As funny as it sounds, get violent with the little guys. A couple of good whacks should flatten each of the breasts out. Ideally you're going for about 1/2 inch thickness. Don't worry if it ends up a little thicker than that (sometimes you get a particularly difficult cut of chicken - or you may just have reservations about beating the living heck out of a cut of meat - either way, if you end up with a little thicker piece, simply add another minute or two to the cook time).


Once the chicken have been beaten into submission, sprinkle them with a pinch of pepper. (Don't use any salt here, prosciutto is very salty by itself). Next, sprinkle on some fresh thyme leaves - seasoning to your desired level. Finally, cover both pieces in the parmesan cheese.

Next, cover each chicken breast with three slices of prosciutto, don't worry too much about tucking the excess underneath the chicken - that will take care of itself in a minute. We talked a lot about prosciutto last night (so if you're looking for more info on the Italian meat - check out yesterday's blog post) but we never mentioned how careful you must be when removing prosciutto from the package. Prosciutto is packaged a lot like bacon, with each slice covering a majority of the slice below it. However, prosciutto is very thin and has a tendency to break apart when you start to pull on it. Take it slow, and be sure to watch for any sticking between the pieces. It is very important that your prosciutto stay mostly intact for the next step, otherwise the cooking stage will become a lot more difficult. Once both pieces are covered, drizzle the prosciutto with olive oil and brush it across evenly.

Heat a large frying pan up to medium temperature and add two good lugs of olive oil. (Listen for the bottle to make the 'lug' sound twice). Lay your chicken in the pan (prosciutto side down) and allow to cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, flipping the pieces halfway through to ensure an even cook. (Don't worry about the prosciutto falling off, the parmesan acts as a glue and almost instantly causes the prosciutto to stick to the chicken). All that's left is to drizzle a little lemon juice over the finished product and serve.

Side one done - now completing side two

The Results:

It's too bad smells can't carry across in pictures...the aroma is amazing 

Tonight's recipe ended up being one of our favorites. The prosciutto, chicken and parmesan all combined for a fantastically flavorful dish. Prosciutto doesn't have a dominating presence in any dish - instead it simply lends light hints of flavor to the chicken. This - combined with the parmesan cheese and a light drizzling of olive oil gave the entire dish a very fresh, summertime like flavor.

The best part about this recipe was its overall ease from beginning to end. Counting the time to thaw the chicken in the microwave - we invested about 30 minutes in tonight's meal. It's always an enjoyable experience when a simple dish can lead to such amazing, delectable results. This recipe is certainly going into our big book of "repeat recipes". It turned out amazingly well. Here's hoping you'll try it for yourself.

Couple of quick notes before we leave you for tonight. First, apologies for the picture quality on the first few pictures. When we started cooking - I grabbed my camera only to find the battery was completely dead. Next, we turned to Maggie's camera...same issue. Apparently our blogging every night has drained our camera batteries! As a result, I had to use the camera on my iPhone to take all but the last photo (which was taken by my camera after the battery had some time to charge). Secondly, tomorrow we will be posting the 'homemade pancake recipes' that you have been leaving all this past week. There still is time if you would like your recipe to be featured. Simply leave a comment below tonight's blog post and we will put it up in our feature tomorrow. You can leave an anonymous comment if you wish. We've received about 5 recipes so far (none of them repeats!)- some via comment and a few via email. Be sure to check back tomorrow afternoon to see everyone's take on good old fashioned homemade pancakes. That's all we have for you tonight! Thank you again for taking some time out of your day to read our little cooking adventures. Until tomorrow


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