|Communion of the Apostles|
Vin Santo is made using dried white grapes. It gets its name because it was very often used as Communion wine as seen in this painting of the Communion of the Apostles from the collection of the Duc de Berry. In addition to its ties to holiness, Vin Santo also has the distinction of being incredibly expensive. A small bottle of Vin Santo can set you back anywhere from $16.00 to something only the Vatican could afford. Now I will confess to having tried to substitute a much less expensive sweet wine, a Moscato, in this dish. It just didn’t work. I gritted my teeth and sprung for the real thing. Andrew and I were not disappointed. So while I wish this dish were a bargain, it really is no such thing. The least expensive item on the ingredients list is the boneless chicken breasts. But once you’ve wrapped them in the requisite prosciutto, they’re twice the price. In this case, they’re worth every penny. The crisp prosciutto covers the chicken and sage with salty goodness, the sweet asparagus is not only a perfect partner, it makes the dish look glorious. And then there’s the Vin Santo and butter, coating the chicken with a sauce you won’t be able to get enough of. So treat yourself to a dinner that’s quick and easy to prepare and tastes expensive…because it is. Here is the recipe:
Recipe for Mario Batali’s Chicken Saltimbocca with Asparagus
Serves 4. Easily Halved. Takes 45 minutes start to finish.
1 pound thick asparagus
Eight 3-ounce chicken cutlets, pounded 1/8-inch thick
16 sage leaves
8 slices of prosciutto
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup vin santo
1/2 cup chicken stock
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1.Cook the asparagus in a large saucepan of salted boiling water until crisp-tender, 4 minutes. Drain and cool under cold running water; drain and pat dry.
2. Season the cutlets with salt and pepper and place sage leaves on each cutlet.
3. Wrap each cutlet in a slice of prosciutto, pressing to adhere. Spread the flour in a shallow dish. Dredge the chicken in flour, dusting off the excess; transfer to a baking sheet.
4. Set a rack over a baking sheet. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add half of the chicken and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden and just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer the chicken to the rack. Repeat with the remaining olive oil and chicken.
5. Add the vin santo and stock to the skillet and boil over moderately high heat until the liquid is reduced by half, 4 minutes. Whisk in the butter. Pour half of the sauce into a bowl.
6. Add half of the chicken and asparagus to the skillet and cook over moderate heat until hot, 2 minutes. Season with salt; stir in half of the parsley.
7. Transfer the chicken and asparagus to plates and pour the sauce on top. Repeat with the remaining sauce, chicken, asparagus and parsley.