Saltimbocca is a popular European dish which was originally made by cooking seasoned veal, wrapped in prosciutto in a wine sauce. In many recipes chicken has come to replace veal while richer sherry or marsala is often used in place of wine. Even then this impressive but simple dish uses ingredients which are rarely found on a student budget or in a student kitchen, even in Oxford: so here’s a way to prepare saltimbocca from ingredients which you may already have in the fridge.
2 chicken thigh fillets
2 rashers unsmoked streaky bacon
4 cloves of garlic
2 tsp marjoram
300ml white wine
1) Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the bacon and cook for 5 minutes before removing and setting aside. The fat from the bacon can cause the pan to boil over suddenly so keep an eye on it.
2) Cut most of the way into the side of the chicken thighs along their whole length. Then open them out like books before squashing them, one at a time, between two dinner plates. This will soften the meat a little and ensure that they are thin enough to cook quickly. On a separate plate, coat the chicken in flour.
3) Peel and bruise the garlic and fry over a medium heat with enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Do this until the garlic begins to brown.
4) Add the chicken to the pan and cook for around 5 minutes on each side; it should be golden brown at the end of this time. Add a little more oil if the pan becomes dry.
5) Sprinkle salt, pepper and 1 tsp marjoram on each of the cooked bacon rashers set aside from earlier. Carefully remove the chicken from the pan and wrap in the bacon.
6) Return the wrapped chicken to the pan and cook for further 2 or 3 minutes on each side to brown the bacon slightly.
7) Add the wine to the pan and reduce on a high heat until it forms a thick, light brown sauce. Depending on the hob and pan being used this can take up to 10 minutes.
8) Serve the chicken; smother the chicken in the sauce and garnish each serving with one or two of the garlic cloves from the pan.
Tips and Variations
Saltimbocca is a really versatile dish which goes well with pasta, potatoes, couscous, or any of a wide variety of vegetables. The flavour of the chicken isn’t particularly dominant alongside that of the wine and the seasoning so couscous made up with chicken stock makes a simple but fitting side.
If you find that the bacon falls off of the chicken in the pan then it can be held in place with a wooden skewer or cocktail sticks, just be sure to remove any skewers before serving.
PHOTO/ Jamie Russell