The biggest challenge here is making the chicken breast thin enough to roll. It needs to be thin in order to cook evenly and it needs to be thin enough to roll up like a burrito.
You could flatten the chicken breasts by pounding them down with a mallet but I prefer to slice the breasts horizontally, nearly all of the way, and then I lay the chicken breast open. If the chicken breast is really thick you can slice it from the top side and then slice it again, in the opposite direction from the bottom side, to make a tri-fold.
Before we get going…
A caution about using toothpicks to secure food. I use the same number of toothpicks on each item that I secure. If I need two picks on one chicken breast, I use two on all of the other breasts, even if I might only need one toothpick for some. That way, when serving time arrives, I know that I must remove two toothpicks from each breast. It eliminates the guessing game that comes when I think, “did I use one or two toothpicks on this one?” Make sure to remove toothpicks before serving!
As with many recipes, you can stuff the chicken with anything you like. This time around, I had some ricotta cheese that needed to be used and some prosciutto that was just itching to be used for something. This recipe serves three people.
3 chicken breasts
4 oz prosciutto
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
7 oz ricotta cheese (about half of a 15 oz container)
1 ½ cups Panko bread crumbs
½ cup cooking oil
For the sauce:
1 Tbs butter
1 Tbs flour
¼ cup chicken stock
24 oz tomato sauce (I used an 8 oz can and 16 oz tomato sauce)
¼ cup half-and-half
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
4 oz spinach
On a clean cutting board, flatten the chicken breasts to ¼” thick, or carefully slice them.
Layer the chicken breasts with several slices of prosciutto ham.
Scatter grated parmesan cheese over the chicken breasts.
Apply a schmear of ricotta cheese to the chicken.
Spread some panko bread crumbs onto a large platter. Lay a chicken breast onto the bread crumbs and press down lightly.
Roll the chicken breast and secure with toothpicks.
Heat a large skillet to medium heat and add ½ cup cooking oil. When the oil is hot, gently lay the chicken breasts into the pan, being careful to not crowd the pan.
When the bottom side browns, turn it over and cook the other side. When both sides are golden brown, remove to a clean plate, lined with a paper towel.
Discard the oil from the pan. I like to reuse oil so I usually dump the oil in a stainless steel bowl and filter it later and store it in a can.
Wipe remaining oil from pan but leave a slight, residual film of oil. Turn heat to medium high and add onions. Sautee for a minute until onions soften. Remove onions and set aside.
Deglaze the skillet with chicken stock.
Add butter and flour and whisk to make a roux.
Add cream and tomato sauce. Whisk and sauté until the sauce thickens. Return the onions to the skillet. Lower the heat.
Add fresh spinach and sauté for another minute, or so, until the spinach wilts.
Pour the sauce onto an oven proof serving platter. Arrange the chicken on top of the sauce and add a few slices of mozzarella. Bake in the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese.
Garnish with fresh spinach and serve.