Recipes and Ramblings in Italy

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Recipe of the Week (August 1, 2015)

Posted by William Abruzzo on July 31, 2015 at 12:25 AM



Pollo in Forno con Spinaci, Prosciutto e Fontina (Roasted Chicken Breasts Topped with Spinach, Prosciutto and Fontina Cheese)


        This recipe takes us to the region of EMILIA ROMAGNA. When one thinks of chicken served with spinach, the Italian-American classic “Chicken Florentine” certainly comes to mind. It is a tasty combination of pan sautéed chicken medallions served over a bed of spinach and topped with a cream sauce. Although the name implies that this is the glorious specialty of Florence, it is actually an Italian-American classic. So, when you visit Florence, do not expect to find it a restaurant serving traditional Florentine fare. You will have to search it out on a tourist menu at one of the restaurants near the Ponte Vecchio. This recipe is my take on the classic combination of chicken and spinach. I top boneless chicken breasts with layers of prosciutto, sautéed spinach and fontina cheese and then finish them off with crispy breadcrumbs.



Chicken Breasts (8 -boneless, skinless)

Prosciutto (4 ounces -sliced paper thin)

Fontina Cheese (1/2 lb)

Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese (1/3 cup)

Country Style Italian Bread (4 thick slices)

Olive Oil (for sauteeing)

Butter (1 ½ sticks)

White Wine (¾ cup)

Chicken Broth (about 1 ½ cups - as needed)

Flour (2 tbs)

Spinach (2 lbs)

Garlic (5 cloves)

Spanish Onion (½ small)

Rosemary (1 sprig)

Parsley (3 tbs chopped)

Paprika (to taste)

Black Pepper (to taste)

Salt (to taste)


        Chop 3 cloves of garlic. Coat the bottom of a large deep frying pan with olive oil, set it on a medium burner and sauté the garlic until soft. Add the spinach and some water which will allow it to steam. Season the spinach with paprika, black pepper and salt, and sauté it until wilted and tender. Transfer the spinach to a colander and gently press out most of the liquid with the back of a wooden spoon. Chop the spinach, place it in a mixing bowl, and stir in the grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.


        Butterfly the chicken breasts, place them cut side up on your work surface and season them with black pepper and salt. Place a layer of prosciutto on top of each chicken breast and then a scoop of spinach. Use a wooden skewer to pinch together the ends of each chicken breast in one spot at the center. Transfer the chicken breasts to a greased baking dish and tent it with aluminum foil. Bake the chicken in a pre-heated 415 degree oven for 40 minutes or until fully cooked.


        Meanwhile, grate the bread in a food processor, transfer the crumbs to a mixing bowl, toss them with a drizzle of olive oil, and set the bowl to the side. Grate the fontina cheese and set it to the side. Next, prepare the sauce. Coarsely chop the onion, parsley and remaining garlic. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low burner, sauté the onion and garlic until soft, and add the wine and herbs. Simmer for 7 minutes and then remove the saucepan from the burner and set it to the side. Place the flour in small frying pan and moisten it with enough olive oil to create a roux. Set the frying pan on a medium burner, sauté the roux until golden, and set it to the side.


        When the chicken breasts are done, transfer them to a lightly greased baking tray and top each breast with plenty of fontina cheese and breadcrumbs. Tent the tray with aluminum foil to keep the chicken warm and set it to the side. Next, complete the sauce. Transfer the juices (1 ½ cups) from the baking dish to the saucepan. If there are not enough juices, add some chicken broth. Season the sauce with paprika, black pepper and salt, simmer for 7 minutes, and then strain the sauce through a mesh sieve. Press the aromatics left in the sieve with the back of a wooden spoon to extract all the liquid. Return the sauce to the saucepan, set it on a medium burner, whisk in the roux, and simmer for another 5 minutes, whisking all the while to thicken the sauce.


        Turn the temperature of your oven up to 475 degrees. Remove the aluminum foil from the tray and set it in the oven for 2 or 3 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the breadcrumbs are golden. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and serve it accompanied by the sauce. Serve hot. Serves 8 adults.



Categories: Meat Dishes

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Reply charluzza
11:37 PM on August 13, 2015 
My wife made this for me and it was excellent. Like the combination of spinach with the chicken and the toasted breadcrumbs on top gave it a nice texture. Will definitely have her make this again for me.
Reply ScampieLover
11:27 PM on August 13, 2015 
I'm always looking for different chicken dishes. My youngest son, l2 yrs old, is so particular and only likes chicken. I made this for him and he loved it. Keep the chicken recipes coming.
Reply mariabella
11:16 PM on August 13, 2015 
Bill, I just had to try this recipe because your picture of it looked so good. Needless to say, it was just as I suspected, Delicious!!! Thanks again for a great chicken dish.
Reply Jerrod
9:30 AM on August 7, 2015 
I enjoyed this dish. Thank you. I hope you will post recipes from your cookbook for your viewers to try.

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Roll Out Pie Dough with Ease Using Plastic Wrap

This is an old trick I learned years ago from my mother. The next time you bake a pie, roll out the dough between sheets of plastic wrap. This will prevent the dough from sticking to your rolling pin and will make it easier to transport the dough from your work surface to the pie dish or baking sheet.

Cover your entire work surface with plastic wrap and sprinkle it lightly with flour. Turn the dough onto the wrap, pat it down to 1 inch thickness, sprinkle it lightly with flour, and then cover it with a second layer of wrap. Roll out the dough to just less than ¼ inch thickness and remove the top layer of wrap. Lift the dough using the bottom layer of wrap, turn it on to a lightly greased pie dish or baking sheet, and then remove the wrap. Its quick and easy! 

Tips on Italian Ingredients

 Frying Tomato Paste Enhances the Flavor and Adds Depth to Your Dish

Many recipes direct you to stir tomato paste into a sauce, soup or stew. However, frying the tomato paste first fully develops its flavor and eliminates any raw or metallic taste. It is a quick and easy way to enhance the flavor of your dish. Tomato paste should always be added at the beginning of a recipe, rather than at the end. This allows its flavor to marry with the dish. Add it immediately after sautéing your aromatics in olive oil or rendered fat. When the aromatics are soft, push them to one side of your pot or frying pan. Place a dollop of tomato paste on the other side, tilt the pot or frying pan to pool the oil around the tomato paste, and let it gently sizzle for about 2 minutes.  After the tomato paste has fried, incorporate it into the aromatics and then add the liquid and other ingredients to complete your sauce, soup or stew. 

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 My Great Grandparents, Vita and Onofrio Abruzzo, from the town of Santa Margherita di Belice, Sicily pictured here with my grandfather Vito "Bill" in the center.

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