Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pollo Italiano (Italian Chicken)

Above: Chicken Saltimbocca

Above: Chicken Parmigiana

I think Italian food is my favorite. Mexican food is a close second (or maybe tied). But I love Italian food with all my heart. When it comes to Italian, I usually make pasta (easy, usually economical, and a pound of pasta goes a long way). But as is evidenced by the many chicken recipes on our blog, I also love chicken--especially when it is done Italian style.

The first recipe is for Chicken Parmigiana. It is so easy, basic, and tasty. A true Italian classic. This particular recipe is an old favorite. I made it, myself, the first time at least 7 years ago. My only warning here is that I fell into the shortcut trap again. I've been so busy with two little boys lately that I keep trying to come up with cooking shortcuts. Some of the shortcuts work out, but honestly, mostly they backfire on me. The shortcut I tried here was to put all of the ingredients for the chicken breading into the blender. The result? The texture of the breading was kind of boring and it actually made it a little less flavorful this time around. I've made this a ton of times over the past seven years. Every other time, I crushed the stuffing (which is the primary ingredient for the breading) with a meat mallet and then added the other breading ingredients. This time, I got lazy...and it just didn't work. But follow the recipe as written and it is to die for. I made this for my husband's grandmother and she proclaimed that it was a recipe "for the books"--a recipe to write down, keep track of, and make again and again.

The second recipe is for Chicken Saltimbocca. I tried it for the first time just last night. My father-in-law planted some mint and sage for me because he knew I liked fresh herbs (what a sweet thing to do!). This was a fun challenge for me, because I am mostly used to using basil, rosemary, thyme, and even chives when it comes to fresh herbs. I've had some fun with the mint (I made a minted pea mash that was lovely and refreshing--I'll have to add it to the blog sometime. I also used the mint in our yummy Greek meatballs, and we used it in our herbed sodas that we made last year too). But I was honestly at a loss for what to do with the sage. I'd never cooked with sage much before. The only recipe that I had come across recently that used sage was for Chicken Saltimbocca...but for one reason or another, I kept putting off making it. Now, my only regret is that I didn't try that recipe sooner!

Oh, and do you want to know a cool thing about mint and sage? They come back every year, so you don't have to keep re-planting them and buying new plants every year. What a perk!

Pair these chicken recipes with a salad or some veggies and a side of pasta and you're set! I hope you like them.

Chicken Parmigiana


1 cup packaged herb-seasoned stuffing mix, crushed (preferably Pepperidge Farms stuffing)
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup snipped parsley
1/4 tsp garlic powder (or to taste)
2 1/2 to 3 lbs. meaty chicken pieces (breasts, thighs, etc.)--you can also use 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (which is what I usually do)
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted


In a shallow dish, combine the stuffing mix, Parmesan cheese, parsley, and garlic powder. Set aside.

Skin the chicken. Brush chicken with butter or margarine. Coat with stuffing mixture.

In a greased 15x10x1 inch or 13x9x2 inch baking pan, arrange chicken so the pieces do not touch.

Bake chicken, uncovered, in a 375 degree oven for 45-55 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink, and an instant-read thermometer inserted in chicken registers 170 degrees F for breast meat or 180 degrees F for thigh meat. Do not turn chicken pieces while baking.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: I have no idea where my Mom found this recipe.

Notes: I usually double the breading mixture. Sure, you end up throwing some out because you have extra, but I hate it when you are trying to coat chicken and you run out of breading mixture (or it gets soggy) by the time you are trying to add breading to the last pieces of chicken.

Also, as noted in the introduction to this blog post, don't be tempted to take a shortcut and throw the breading ingredients into a blender. Crush the stuffing in a zip top bag and then stir in the other breading ingredients. It's just much more flavorful that way and the texture of the breading is a lot yummier.

Chicken Saltimbocca


1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Coarse salt and ground pepper
4 fresh whole sage leaves, plus
4 minced sage leaves
4 (6-8 ounce each) chicken cutlets
4 slices (3 ounces) thinly sliced prosciutto
4 teaspoons olive oil
3/4 cup dry white wine (or chicken broth can be used)
1/3 cup reduced sodium canned chicken broth
1 tablespoon cold butter


In a shallow bowl, stir together flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.

Lay one sage leaf lengthwise on each cutlet, then wrap a prosciutto slice around middle of each cutlet, encasing sage. Flatten with the palm of your hand to help prosciutto adhere to the chicken. Dredge cutlets in seasoned flour; tap off excess.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high heat. Cook 2 cutlets until golden-brown and cooked through, 3-4 minutes per side. Remove cutlets and keep warm. Repeat with remaining 2 teaspoons oil and 2 cutlets (see notes).

Add wine and broth to skillet; cook over high heat until reduced by three-quarters, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool 1 minute. Add butter and minced sage; stir until butter is melted, about 30 seconds. Spoon sauce over cutlets; serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Nutrition information: 393 calories, 12.7 g fat, 52.8 g protein, 7.1 g carbohydrates, 0.6 fiber.

Source: Martha Stewart Everyday Food recipe.

Notes: I doubled the recipe, so I increased the flour dredging mixture (by more than half--I probably used a cup of flour and salt and pepper to taste). I used 6 full-size chicken breasts which I made into cutlets myself by slicing them in half lengthwise. I used one whole sage leaf per piece of chicken (so twelve, total). However, I LOVED the combination of sage, chicken, and prosciutto. Those parts made for the best bites. I think I would have used more sage--perhaps two or even three leaves per piece of chicken.

Also, I used slightly more prosciutto (probably 4 ounces for the recipe as written--or 8 ounces since I doubled it).

Since I doubled this recipe, there were a lot of batches of chicken cutlets to cook. My warning to you is to make sure to wipe the pan clean with a paper towel in-between each batch and then add the additional oil to cook the chicken in at that point. The reason for this is that the first batch will be crisp, clean, and nicely browned. But if you don't wipe out the pan, the yummy little browned bits leftover from the batch before will quickly overcook and become nasty little burned bits that can mar the taste of your final batches of chicken.

Finally, by the time I finished making the cutlets, I had cranky boys and a tired husband, so I skipped the sauce. I'm sure it would have been fantastic (as I am now in love with sage and would have liked more and more sage with my chicken). But I simply didn't have the time and energy when it came down to it.


  1. I have no idea where I got the recipe either. And I think I only made it of those ones that I tried and then forgot about. I will have to try it again.

  2. Yum! I also love me some sage. I made a similar recipe I believe from the everyday food cook book. Oh and most herbs come back every year! Mint, chives, parsley, Rosemary, thyme, oregano all come back! Basil and cilantro sadly do not.