July 6, 2006

Chicken Wrapped in Prosciutto

AHHHH!!! * squirms and runs about the house frantically with damp cloths and vacumn cleaner!* My parents and sister will be visiting in less than a day! And I have procrastinated with my cleaning for WEEKS~ *sigh* I have a load to do; without much time on hand. My dad's birthday is coming up as well; and were going to be away on vacation at Cairns for several days. I will probably need to bake him a birthday cake today and have an early cake-cutting and candle-blowing celebration. There's too many sheets to wash, clothes to clear and piles of junk to maneuver around. (imagine an untidy Uni student's house right after exam week!). I will probably be blogging a little less this week as I will be away; but I'll definitely have a couple of things prepared to welcome my family when they arrive. Despite the many many things on the house's to-do list; I managed to squeeze in an hour to make a special meal for my darling housemates before my parents arrive and I wont get to be home to cook as often. I made everyone's favourite; stuffed roast chicken wrapped in prosciutto served with rocket greens, turkish bread and crisp potato croquettes.
Here's the recipe for the chicken. It may sound and look 'fancy/complicated' but it's far from that. Especially when you can purchase good slices of prosciutto conveniently from any nearby supermarket in Sydney. You'd probably need to go over to a Deli or Gourmet store in other Asian Countries. It's my favourite way to roast chicken as the flavours from the prosciutto are locked into the chicken as it cooks and the meat is left juicy, tasty and succulent.
1 large slab of chicken breast meat slit in the center
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup cream cheese softenend
1 tbsp oregano flakes
1 garlic clove minced
4 slices prosciutto

Mix the cheese with the garlic and herbs in a small bowl. Place ingredients in the center of the chicken and roll meat up to form a cyclindrical log. Wrap prosciutto around the chicken to secure its shape. Drizzle with olive oil and Roast in 190 degrees preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes (depending on the thickness of the chicken) and switch to the grill on 180 degrees for another 5-10 minutes till top is brown and crisp. Remove from the grill and allow to rest before slicing to serve. Reserve the drippings for making sauce if you like.

The croquette or croquet is a parcel of food such as minced meat or vegetables, shaped into a cylinder, encased in breadcrumbs and deep fried.
Prosciutto is the Italian word for ham. The process of making prosciutto can take anywhere from nine to eighteen months, depending on the size of the ham. First the ham is cleaned, salted, and left for about two months. Next it is washed several times to remove the salt. It is then hung in a shady, airy place. The air is important to the final quality of the ham. The ham is left until dry. This takes a variable amount of time, depending on the local climate and size of the ham. When the ham is completely dry, it is hung in an airy place at room temperature for up to eighteen months. Interestingly, prosciutto is never cured with nitrates (either sodium or potassium), which are generally used in other hams to produce the desired rosy color and unique flavour. Only sea salt is used. Prosciutto's characteristic pigmentation seems to be produced by certain bacteria, rather than a direct chemical reaction.

Traditional Prosciutto is cured for 2 years. In Bill Buford's book Heat he describes talking to an old Italian butcher who says "When I was young, there was one kind of prosciutto. It was made in the winter, by hand, and aged for two years. It was sweet when you smelled it. A profound perfume. Unmistakable. To age a prosciutto is a subtle business. If it's too warm, the aging process never begins. The meat spoils. If it's too dry, the meat is ruined. It needs to be damp but cool. The summer is too hot. In the winter—that's when you make salumi. Your prosciutto. Your soppressata. Your sausages."
Definitions from Wikepedia.

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