So I put it out there to my Facebook followers that I would happily take some requests this weekend for recipes. One of the comments I got in return was along the lines of “I love your site and recipes, but can you post something simple for people that struggle in the kitchen?”
Ask and ye shall receive.
So I sat and thought, wondering what I could post that would be “simple”, but would still be special. Then I remembered a dish I had made a little over a year ago that was easy but tasted amazing, and that was a chicken rollatini dish. It’s simple to make, flavorful, and visually appealing. It’s also versatile in terms of side dishes. The dish shown in the pic was over gnocchi and mushrooms with a red pepper cream sauce… but you can really go anywhere with it. So here is what I’m thinking for this go around…
Chicken Rollatini with bacon, accompanied by roasted cauliflower,
parmesan & black pepper quinoa, and a tomato basil cream.
Sounds kind of difficult and fancy doesn’t it? Well it’s not, trust me!
4 Chicken Cutlets
4 Slices of Bacon or Pancetta
1c Fresh Basil
4 Mozzarella Shredded Cheese sticks
2tsp Olive Oil
1/4c Grated Parmesan Cheese
1tsp Ground Black Pepper
1tsp Garlic Powder
1 Head of Cauliflower, cut into florets (or you can purchase a bag of cauliflower florets)
2tbsp Olive Oil
2tsp Ground Black Pepper
2tsp Garlic Powder
1 1/2c Quinoa
2 1/2c Chicken Stock
1/2c White Wine
1tbsp Ground Black Pepper
1/2c Grated Parmesan Cheese
1tbsp Unsalted Butter
10oz Canned Diced Tomato
1c Chicken Stock
1/2tsp Ground Black Pepper
1/2tsp Garlic Powder
1/2c Heavy Cream
1/2c Fresh Basil, chopped
I know, it seems like a lot, but it’s really not. Just breathe, you’ll be fine. 😉
Heat your oven to 350F.
Now first thing’s first, you need nice thin chicken cutlets, and you also want to increase their size a bit. Place your chicken cutlets between two pieces of plastic wrap. If you have meat tenderizer, great, if not, use a rolling pin or some other first semi-flat surfaced object. You just want to pound the cutlets out a little bit, this way they’re easier to stuff and cook faster. Just be careful not to go too thin, you don’t want to tear them. Another option… if you have a good relationship with your butcher, they’ll probably do this for you if you ask nicely. I know I used to back in my butcher shop days at Mulberry Street.
Ok, so now you have nice thin chicken cutlets. Cut your slices of bacon in half and place two halves on top of each cutlet (or if you’re using pancetta which is round just lay it on top of the cutlet), then put a layer of fresh basil. Finally put the mozzarella stick in the center horizontally and roll your cutlets. Skewer each cutlet on both ends with the toothpicks to prevent them from unrolling. Insert the toothpicks where the edge of the cutlet roll ends and push through the cutlet and out the other side. Brush your rollatini with olive oil and sprinkle with the salt, pepper, garlic powder and parmesan. Place in a baking pan and cook in the oven for 35 minutes. The rollatini should be nicely browned on top and a little cheese should be leaking out the sides when it’s done.
Next thing is to get the cauliflower roasting, as it takes nearly as long as the chicken. In a bowl combine your cauliflower florets, salt, pepper, garlic powder and olive oil. Cover the bowl securely with plastic wrap and shake vigorously so all of the florets are coated with the oil and seasoning. You could also put everything in a Ziploc bag and do it shake ‘n bake style. Place the seasoned cauliflower on a baking sheet and put in the oven for 30 minutes. You will need to turn the florets halfway through for even cooking, otherwise you’ll have a burnt bottom.
Third is the quinoa. In a medium sauce pot bring your chicken stock, white wine and 1tbsp of butter to a boil, add your quinoa, salt and black pepper and stir, bring back to a boil. Allow it boil for two minutes then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer covered for 15 minutes. You’ll know the quinoa are done when they’ve formed white halos on the grains. Add the final 1tbsp of butter and grated parmesan cheese, stir until the butter is melted and parmesan is mixed throughout the quinoa. Put the cover back on and set aside off the heat.
Last but not least you need to make the sauce, which can be done while the quinoa is cooking. In a medium sauce pot combine your diced tomato, chicken stock, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and add your heavy cream, stir everything together. Continue to simmer for a few minutes then reduce the heat to low. Five minutes before you’re ready to serve take the sauce off the heat and using either a blender, food processor or hand emulsifier liquefy the sauce so you don’t have tomato chunks. After you’ve liquefied the sauce add your chopped basil and stir it in. Allow the sauce to rest covered for a few minutes before serving to allow the basil to release it’s flavor.
Remove the toothpicks from the rollatini and put ’em on the plate, spoon some of the cream sauce over the top. Plate your quinoa and cauliflower… Perfect, you’re all set.
So you have four different components to the dish, but nothing is a difficult skill level. The only minute challenge is time management, staggering everything so that it comes together at the right moment. The best part is, it looks and tastes amazing without being hard. Your friends and family will be impressed, I promise!
Ok, so now some wine pairings. When you’re talking about a dish with tomato, basil, parmesan… my mind immediately jumps to Italy. You want something with good fruit and balance, but nothing too big that will overwhelm the chicken. Here’s what I’m thinking…
Podere la Berta Sangiovese di Romagna, Emilia-Romagna, IT – The La Berta estate was recently purchased by the Poggiali family of Felsina and Castello di Farnetella fame in Tuscany. The family’s roots originate in Romagna, and they’ve always wanted to have a winery there, but they specifically wanted to focus on Sangiovese, which is not the predominant red varietal of the region. But when La Berta was put up for sale, a winery that specialized in Sangiovese di Romagna as well as the white varietal Albana, it was a no brainer for the Poggialis. The wine is really an absolute steal at the price point. There are distinct notes of cherry, ripe raspberry and fennel, with very subtle tannins giving the wine a touch of backbone. It is aged entirely in stainless with allows the fruit to really shine and gives the wine a wonderful brightness. This wine is one of the few Sangiovese that can be drank without needing food, but it makes for a great food wine as well. (Retail $12-15)
Valle dell’Acate Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Sicily, IT – Valle dell’Acate is one of most storied estates in Sicily, having been established by the Jocono family in the 19th century. They have 110 hectares of land, half of which is devoted to vineyard, the other half is a world class blood orange orchard… Probably not surprising that a number of their wines have subtle orange notes! Their Cerasuolo is a blend of 70% Nero d’Avola and 30% Frappato. Nero’s tend to be big, dark, brooding uber masculine wines while Frappato is a very soft, bright and delicate varietal (think Gamay), so when you blend the two the end result is a medium bodied wine with surprising depth and complexity. You’ll find notes of both black cherry as well as a hint of maraschino, blueberry, orange zest, black pepper and subtle oak, along with refreshing acidity in the opening and mid palate, and firm tannins in the long lingering finish. This wine is truly gorgeous. It can be consumed now, or laid down and for up to five years. (Retail $20-25)
Cascina delle Rose Dolcetto d’Alba “A Elizabeth”, Piemonte, IT – I’ve mentioned CdR in previous posts, namely their Barbarescos which they are internationally known for. They have a meager three hectares of vineyard in the Rio Sordo Valley in Barbaresco, and have been producing wines since 1948… however, they’ve only been bottling wines under their own label since 1992. So as I said, they are very well regarded for their Barbaresco, but what most people don’t realize is that they also make very small quantities of Barbera and Dolcetto as well. Their Dolcetto is beautifully fresh and vibrant, with bright cherry notes, dried herbs, churned loam and subtle leather. The wine is stainless aged, allowing the fruit to shine and giving it great lift. The only problem is availability… With only 330 cases made per vintage there isn’t much to go around. But if you can find it the price is reasonable enough that you can stock up! (Retail $14-18)
So that’s it, recipe, pairings and all.
New posts coming soon, in the meantime crack open a bottle of something and relax. Life is short, enjoy it!