Monday, January 24, 2011

Chicken Mont Marthe

       When I was growing up, thrift was highly valued in our house. It didn’t really have much to do with how much we had or didn’t have.  I don't know how many of my readers know this but the Scots are notoriously thrifty.  And my family being Scots to the core on my Mother's side, bordered on insanely thrifty.   It was an article of faith that ‘waste not, want not.’  I could come up with about ten more aphorisms about pennies saved being pennies earned. That and any number of old saws that were called on to explain things like re-using Christmas wrapping paper for years and hoarding string and Godiva chocolate boxes.  
      I have never outgrown this  fixation with thrift .  Especially where food is concerned.  I think expiration dates should be questioned, that we throw away far too much before its time and that whenever possible leftover anything should be incorporated into new meals. 
        That being said, I am guilty of forgetting what’s in the vegetable bin. Of not wrapping the cheese so it doesn’t dry out.  Of finding things more suitable for making penicillin that re-using in another recipe.  I won’t call it a New Year’s Resolution but after a particularly harrowing refrigerator clean out, I vowed to go back to my thrifty roots.  This dish came to mind as a way of doing just that.

        Our holiday entertaining yielded plenty of end bits of cheese.  And among those pieces was some Boursin.  I love the creamy texture of this cheese and the gentle bite of herbs incorporated into it.    It is a throwback to my earliest days of cooking on my own.  Then, I worked with a woman named Marty, with whom I remember ‘inventing’ a chicken dish which we called “Chicken MontMarthe”.  It was basically a riff on two other dishes: Chicken Cordon Bleu and the Boursin Burger, a then popular hamburger stuffed with Boursin cheese.  Of course, it was simple as all get out to make: You stuffed a boneless chicken breast with Boursin and rolled it in flour then prayed the Boursion wouldn't disappear into a puddle in the pan. 
        This time around, however, I was able to use some prosciutto, yet another leftover, and wrap sheets of it around the enter chicken breast.  The boursin stayed put, the dish tasted absolutely delicious and came in a little over the 30 minute mark.  And saving all that money by using all those leftovers let me spring for delicious free-range organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts.   I swear they taste better and are more tender.  Here’s the recipe:
Recipe for Chicken MontMarthe for 2.

4 slices prosciutto

2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped (or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried)

Approximately 1/3 portion of Boursin cheese round—any flavor
Freshly Ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  1. Turn the breasts to the meaty side and make an incision about ½ inch deep and two inches long.  Stuff the Boursin Cheese into the incision.

  1. Lay the prosciutto on a cutting board or plate and sprinkle with the oregano.

  1. Season the chicken with ½ teaspoon pepper. Lay each breast on a slice of prosciutto and wrap the prosciutto around the chicken. Wrap another slice of two around the first to cover the entire breast.

  1. Heat the oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat.

  1. Add the chicken and cook until the prosciutto is crisp and the chicken 4 to 5 minutes per side. Discard the garlic and transfer the chicken to a rimmed baking sheet.  Put it in the oven for an additional 15 minutes. Serve at once.