Sunday, 18 March 2012

Involtini di Pollo

The meal we had today is an attempt to copy a dish I first tried in one of the Italian restaurants in our district. I am extremely picky as far as food is concerned, and pretty merciless when evaluating Italian restaurants. I've heard a few times that Italian food is 'the blandest' ever, sadly it was the opinion of people who know the "Italian" food merely from Italian restaurants. And those, if located outside Italy rarely can do the food justice. Luckily, we live in a 'posh" area (haha), people like to pose and splash money around, which usually is either quite entertaining, or simply sad, but on the positive side there are a few places serving decent food, including two (!) Italian restaurants. 
The first time I tried the dish in question I actually just tried somebody else's meal and ended up devouring half of their food! As it sometimes happens, the meal that looks nothing-special in the menu turns out to be a masterpiece combination of scent and flavours - perfect texture, seasoning, completed with a few drops of strong olive oil...... mmmmmmmmm... Mouth watering!
The preparation though, as it often is in the case of Italian meals, is amazingly easy! (I guess I'd be shun by all the Italians for daring say that!)
Below are the ingredients and cooking instruction for a filling, two-course meal for two 
We started the meal with a modified version of a starter copied from another Italian restaurant - bread / pizza dough balls. This time I stuffed the balls with ricotta cheese, the taste wasn't perhaps very strong, but the the texture was pleasantly different, quite an interesting little change. 

For bread balls you need:

0.5 large cup of plain, all purpose flour (or more, if the mixture is too sticky)
a pinch of dried yeast
a pinch of salt
a dash of olive oil
lukewarm water or milk
about 2 tablespoons of ricotta cheese

In large bowl mix all the ingredients and add water or milk, start kneading. Initially when they begin to mist the mixture will be quite sticky, but should improve after a bit of kneading. If it doesn't, add more flour. Knead the mixture until smooth and playable, splash more olive oil on top, cover the bowl with a tea towel and put in a warm place for 30 minutes or so. The dough should grow - ideally double the volume, but not always. After it's grown, knead it for a few more minutes and tear large bits of the dough flatten them in your hands and place a little ricotta in the middle, then close all the edges and roll the ball in your hands to smooth the surface. Place in the pre-heated to 180C oven and bake them until golden. I served them with green pesto (basil based pesto), red pesto (tomato based pesto), a mix of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Yummy! 

The main meal takes:

1 double chicken breast
1 tablespoon of basil pesto
5-6 dried tomatoes
a bit of gorgonzola cheese 
a few fresh basil leaves
a few slices of prosciutto ham

Cut the breast in half, spread pesto inside, cover with basil leaves, place Gorgonzola and dried tomatoes on top, roll the breast and wrap a slice or two of prosciuto around it, so as it is sealed and cheese won;t leak during baking. Place the breasts on a baking tray lined with olive oil and out it to pre-heated oven ( I used 170C hot fan-oven) for about 40 minutes.  This time I served it with gnocchi as a side dish. 


I used half the amount of ingredients form the recipe, and still it made plenty enough for another dinner! Good job we both enjoyed the gnocchi and had another Italian style meal penciled in for the next day. I guess we can just assume that the amounts I give below serve 4, as long as it is a side dish. 

0.5 kilo potatoes
2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan  
1 egg yoke
70 gram of plain all purpose flour (or more - depending on the consistency, if the dough is sticky keep on adding more flour until it is possible to roll it and form gnocchi)

Boil the potatoes and mash them well - they need to be really smooth, otherwise there will be lumps in our gnocchi. Cool the potatoes until really cold. Then mix the mash with Parmesan, egg yoke, and flour. Knead well until the dough is not sticky and you can roll it and form gnocchi.  
Divide the dough into 4 or 5 parts, out the first part on a floured surface (you may also want to rub some flour onto your hands - not necessary, but makes life easier). Roll a dough to form a long string about 1.5 cm thick. Cut off or tear off bits about 1.5 cm long. Roll them a birth in your fingers and press the middle of each gnocchi with a thumb so as it gets concave. You may also fold the outside "lips" inside. Boil a large pan of salted water, add a tablespoon of cooking oil or olive oil so as the gnocchi don't stick together and put the gnocchi in. Boil until they come up to the surface. When you take them out, don't pile them, as they stick like crazy! :)
When the chicken and gnocchi are ready serve them with olives, sprinkle with olive oil, dried sage, oregano, and grated Parmesan. Enjoy!

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