I’m a big fan of prosciutto-wrapped anything, but especially chicken. I think the Italian cured ham has a way to keep all the chicken’s delicate moisture in, while infusing its salty, addictive flavor to the meat. I also like that it’s not too fatty (unlike bacon or pancetta), keeping lean chicken breasts… fairly lean. I was attracted to this recipe because of the sauce: pesto is one of my favorite condiments, and thinning it with a bit of cream makes one of the most flavorful (and easiest!) sauce ever. The original recipe used cream only for the sauce, but I chose to split it half/half with chicken broth. It makes the sauce more pleasant to eat because of its lighter texture, and it also allows the asparagus’s flavor to shine through. You can make your own pesto, but on a weeknight, simply use your favorite store-bought pesto. I won’t tell anyone.
Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken Fillets with Asparagus Pesto Sauce
Makes 2 servings
2 tbsp [30 ml] all-purpose flour
2 large chicken breasts (about 6 oz [170 g] each), cut along the side to make two thinner fillets per breast (or 4 store-bought chicken fillets)
4 slices prosciutto
About 6 oz [170 g] thin green asparagus, washed, tougher end discarded, cut in 1-inch [2.5-cm] pieces (or shorter, if the asparagus you find are thick-stemmed)
2 tbsp [30 ml] extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup [60 ml] pesto, homemade or store-bought
¼ cup [60 ml] heavy cream (suitable for cooking; I use lactose-free, you can also substitute soy or rice cream in a pinch)
¼ cup [60 ml] chicken broth
Fresh basil leaves, to serve (optional)
Put the flour in a shallow plate. If the chicken breasts are very moist, pat them dry with a paper towel. Season on both sides with salt and pepper (careful with the salt since the prosciutto is salty too), then dredge each chicken fillet in flour and shake off the excess. Wrap each fillet in a slice of prosciutto, place on a plate and reserve.
Cook the asparagus pieces until crisp-tender by steaming (5 minutes in a steamer basket set over boiling water) or microwaving (2 minutes with a tablespoon water in a microwave-proof bowl covered with plastic wrap), then run under cold water to stop the cooking process. Reserve.
Mix the pesto, cream and chicken broth together in a small bowl or measuring cup and keep the mixture close to the stove.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the prosciutto-wrapped chicken fillets and cook for 5 minutes. Lower the heat to medium, flip the chicken fillets and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes, or until just cooked through.
Lower the heat to the minimum and add the pesto-cream sauce. Simmer the sauce very gently for a couple of minutes (the sauce should thicken slightly), then add the cooked asparagus. Leave it on the heat for about a minute, just until everything’s hot. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if necessary.
Plate two chicken fillets per person over half the sauce with a side of your choice (pasta dressed with best-quality extra-virgin olive oil, parmigiano-reggiano and freshly ground black pepper, crispy new potatoes, or rice). Sprinkle with basil leaves and serve immediately
Recipe Credits: Translated and adapted from Kwestia Smaku.