Prosciutto-wrapped chicken stuffed with chestnuts, figs and pancetta
- Pre-heat oven to 180⁰C (fan) or 200⁰C (conventional).
- If using tinned chestnuts go to step 4. For fresh chestnuts, use a small sharp knife to cut two lines, in a cross, across the base of each chestnut. Place chestnuts on a baking tray in oven for 15 minutes. Remove half of them and reduce heat to 120⁰C (fan)/ 130⁰C (conventional).
- Allow the chestnuts to cool just until you can handle them without burning yourself - the longer you leave it the harder they are to peel. The shell should have lifted around the cuts, so get underneath and peel the hard shell and the inner leathery skin away from the chestnut inside. Check pictures on the internet if you have not done this before. When done, get the other half out of the oven to do. Turn oven back up to 180⁰C (fan)/ 200⁰C (conventional).
- Cut all the peeled chestnuts into pieces and put in a food processor bowl.
- Finely chop the fresh/semi-dried figs and the pancetta and add to the chestnuts. Add the leaves from the picked thyme.
- Blitz the chestnut mixture in a food processor until finely chopped and well mixed.
- Get two clean chopping boards (preferably plastic) ready. Use one to remove skin and excess fat from the chicken breasts. Then make a fairly deep slit into the thick end of the breast right along to the thinner end, but without actually cutting right through – basically butterflying it.
- Put a freezer bag on the second board, and one at a time, place the chicken breasts in it. Use the flat side of a meat mallet to firmly but gently flatten each butterflied chicken breast to a consistent thickness of about 1.5cm. Return each chicken breast to the first board when done.
- Prepare 4 pieces of cling film (at least 30cm by 30cm). Place a piece of cling film on the second board. Lay a butterflied chicken breast on top with the slit side facing up. Put ¼ of the chestnut stuffing mixture along the slit and roll the chicken breast over it. Wrap the cling film over it, forming it into a cylinder and then twist the ends of the cling film a few times, to make it a tight and even cylinder. Repeat with the other 3. Then leave the chicken cylinders to rest on a plate for 5 minutes.
- Lightly oil the base of a wide oven and stove-proof pan, with a spray to minimise the amount.
- Peel/prepare any vegetables you plan to serve with this dish, so they are ready to cook.
- Lay three prosciutto slices out on the second board, slightly overlapping and with ends pointing towards you.
- Carefully unwrap the first chicken cylinder and lay lengthways across the prosciutto slices. Wrap the prosciutto around the chicken, rolling and pulling the end ones a little tighter than the middle one, to wrap it tightly. Place it on the oiled pan, with the prosciutto seam underneath. Repeat with the other three chicken breasts and 9 prosciutto slices.
- Place the chicken pan in the oven at 180⁰C (fan) / 200⁰C (conventional) for 20 minutes.
- Cook any vegetables you plan to serve with it, while the chicken is cooking.
- Heat the chicken stock up gently in a small saucepan, without evaporating it.
- Remove the chicken from the oven after 20 minutes, and test the temperature of the largest chicken cylinder with a digital probe thermometer pushed right into the centre. If it reads 75⁰C+ the chicken is cooked. If not, return to the oven for a few minutes until it reaches 75⁰C.
- Once cooked, carefully remove the 4 prosciutto-wrapped chicken breasts from the pan (they will probably have stuck a bit). Place them on a plate, and cover with foil to keep them warm.
- Immediately put the oven pan on the hot hob that the chicken stock was heating on, and pour the chicken stock into the oven pan to deglaze it. Let it bubble and reduce on a fairly high heat for about 5 minutes, until it thickens a bit and darkens. Season with sea salt and ground white pepper.
- When you are happy with the consistency and flavour of the jus, remove it from the heat and pour through a sieve into a jug.
- Use a sharp knife to slice each prosciutto-wrapped chicken breast into 4-6 slices. If serving for a dinner party do not serve the end slice of each as they look less good.
- Plate up the slices of chicken and the vegetables you have prepared on to pre-warmed plates. Pour the chicken jus over the chicken and serve immediately.
- A Le Creuset cast-iron tart tatin pan works brilliantly for cooking this dish – or use a casserole pot that can be used on a stove too, or alternatively a large frying pan that can also go in the oven.
- You can prepare up to the end of step 9 earlier in the day, as long as you store the cling film-wrapped chicken cylinders in the fridge until you re-start at step 10. The chicken would probably need to cook slightly longer if it starts from a colder temperature.
- This dish is great served with steamed kale and wholegrain mustard mash. Just add 2 tablespoons of wholegrain mustard, some butter and cream to 600g potato mash and stir through. If serving this for someone with a dairy allergy you could do potatoes sautéed in oil instead of mash.