Well, I did go for a recipe this week that I knew was going to be good just by looking at it. But it did take a little extra step in the preparation that you might not have ever done. The chicken needed to be pounded out to ¼ inch thickness. The Compadre and I have done this before, once when we had our former pastor over for dinner. Yes this is a “company” type of dish. And it really is easy once you get over using a mallet on the chicken breast!
Our conversation went something like this. Me: “what am I going to use to pound out the chicken?” Compadre: “I think we used a rubber mallet that we bought just for that. I know where it is in the garage.” So he got it and I used it. You’ll notice that I put a layer of plastic wrap between the mallet and the chicken. I would do that even if it was a food grade mallet. One of these days I’ll have to buy something proper for this task. I did wash it before using it.
Oh, and a funny thing. I was looking in my cupboard sure that I had a pampered chef box with a meat tenderizing tool in it. Couldn’t find it and then I realized that I had seen it when I helped Amy and Eric unpack their kitchen. So Amy and Eric – you have the proper tool to do this!
The recipe is from Winning Recipes from Taste of Home. I got the book when I was still working at the school. I really miss the book table that Books are Fun would bring every so often. That’s how I got many of my cookbooks. And for a great price. Anyone know if they do a sale anywhere else? Anyway, these are recipes that have won a contest so it’s a good bet that they are a good recipe. And I’d done something similar before. I was right, this one is a winner! We sat down to eat and went Mmmmm. I'm looking forward to trying many more recipes from this book.
I did use the 8 chicken breasts that the recipe called for (actually 4 giant frozen ones that I cut in half). I cooked them all and froze 6 for yummy quick meals later. We tried them later and they were good but I would say they are best right after you make them. Of course I couldn’t do the recipe straight up. I substituted ½ of a mozzarella cheese stick for the provolone cheese. And since my chicken breasts were wet from being quick thawed under running water I didn’t have to dip them in the milk.
The chicken breasts that I used were pretty fragile and I had to be careful not to pound them too much or they fell apart. When I do this again I’ll buy fresh ones and I think it will work better. The only reason for the toothpicks was to hold them together while coating them in the crumb mixture. They stayed together on the pan just fine.
So here’s my version of Italian Chicken Roll-Ups:
8 boneless chicken breasts
8 slices (cut to fit) deli ham
½ of a mozzarella cheese stick (cut crosswise)
2/3 cup plain bread crumbs
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
Some dried parsley
½ cup milk if you need it
Here’s what you do:
Flatten the chicken breasts on a cutting board with plastic wrap between the mallet and the chicken until it’s about ¼ inch thick. Put the slice of ham and the cheese on the chicken and roll it up, tuck in the edges if you can. Stick a toothpick or two in to keep it all together.
Put the crumbs, parmesan cheese, and parsley in a bowl and the milk (if you need it) in another bowl. Dip the chicken in milk and then in the crumb mixture and put it on a baking pan. Grease the pan, or use a Teflon pan like I did. The recipe said to spray the chicken with nonstick cooking spray but I didn’t. Bake the chicken at 425° for 25 minutes or until your instant read thermometer says 165°. It took a little longer than 25 minutes to get it to that temperature in my oven.
We froze the rest of the chicken rolls spaced apart on a tray in the freezer (to keep them from sticking together) and then put them in a freezer container. When we used them, I just thawed them in the microwave for a while and then heated them up. Since they were already cooked it just took a little while and we had another scrumptious meal.
Oh, and while I was in Maryland, Eric introduced me to something that probably you already know about. You can take a sweet potato or yam and peel and cook it like a potato. Then mash them and put a little butter and cream or ½ & ½ in them and wow! We had mashed sweet potatoes with the chicken the second time we had it.
An easy meal that’s fit for company. Go ahead, ask your pastor over for dinner!