Saturday, April 2, 2011

Friday Evening Dinner: We we we so excited about Roulade of Chicken with Ham & Gruyère!

Something about Friday afternoons fills me with energy (although thankfully not quite in a 13 year old, viral internet sensation kind of way). During the week we eat pretty conservatively, and if I posted daily in this blog you'd soon be bored to tears with our endlessly repetitive weeknight dinners, in which the same salads, soups, and variations on ye olde taco theme feature prominently. Don't get me wrong, it's always tasty, and always a few steps up from Lean Cuisine or Campbell's Soup In a Can (whoopsie, see ya later potential corporate sponsorships, ha ha!). But still......we're not wildly inventive during the week, when there's just too much else going on.

But Friday? Gotta get down on Friday. ;)

Yesterday afternoon the urge struck, and so this is what I came up with for last night's fancy Friday dinner: Roulade of chicken with ham and Gruyère, served on a bed of creamy polenta with a drizzle of rich balsamic reduction, a pile of lightly sautéed asparagus off to one side.

The roulade filling is lightly seasoned with just salt, pepper and thyme (I love the way thyme manages to perfume every bite just a little bit with sweet herbal goodness), otherwise letting the rich flavors of ham and Gruyère (king of all cheeses) shine through. Polenta, of course, makes a creamy and obliging base for just about anything, and the drizzle of super-concentrated, sticky, syrupy balsamic reduction adds just a hint of sweetness and 'wow.'

It's very, very good.

Now if only we could get it to go viral, I could quit my day job. ;)

Roulade of Chicken with Ham and Gruyère Filling (serves 2, scale up as needed)

2 chicken thighs
4 thin slices of deli ham (I used Black Forest)
6 slices of Gruyère
1 tablespoon butter
fresh thyme
salt & pepper

For the polenta:

1/3 cup polenta
1 cup water
1/2 cup milk (keep the carton handy, you may need more)

For the balsamic glaze:

2 tablespoons chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon butter
small amount of cornstarch
sugar & salt

To make roulades: Preheat oven to 375. Trim chicken thighs of excess fat. Carefully pound out to a thickness of about 1/4", so that you have a nice, wide 'sheet' (Heh. A sheet of meat) of chicken. Place a slice of ham, then 3 slices of cheese on each. Season with salt, pepper, and a little fresh thyme. Place another slice of ham on top, then roll each tightly and secure with kitchen twine (oh all right, all right......I use dental floss. It's handy, too). Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in skillet over medium high heat, place roulades in pan and brown for a few minutes on each side. After they are nicely browned, place on roasting pan and in oven. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until done. Remove from oven and let rest.

To make polenta: Start this at the same time as you start browning your chicken, it needs all the cooking time it can get. Bring water to boil, slowly whisk in polenta. Add milk (1/2 cup to start), stir, reduce heat to medium low. Stir as frequently as you can, occasionally adding milk if it begins to look too dry (if it looks stiffer than, say, a bowl of oatmeal, add a splash more milk and stir vigorously). Taste after awhile (careful, it's molten-lava-hot) & add desired amount of salt.

To make balsamic glaze: Bring stock (or water) and vinegar just to a boil in a small saucepan. Keep it at a low boil until liquid has reduced by about half--be sure to keep it at a low boil, this can turn kind of harsh and bitter if you cook it down too hard or too fast. Swirl in a tablespoon of butter. Make a small amount of cornstarch 'slurry' (equal parts cornstarch and water), add it a tiny bit at a time, stirring, until reduction is thick & syrupy (NOT gloppy or gummy). Taste, add salt & sugar as needed.

To plate: Place a smear of creamy polenta on one side of the plate. Take your (now rested but still warm) chicken roulades & slice carefully, then arrange on top of polenta. With a spoon, pick up a little balsamic syrup and slowly drizzle back and forth. Serve with lightly sauteed asparagus on the side.

1 comment:

  1. Using dental floss instead of kitchen twine is kinda genius!