Manchego Stuffed Chicken wrapped in Prosciutto with Shallot-Lemon Pan Sauce and fried Sage

Manchego cheese is one of my favorite cheeses in the world and it pairs beautifully with all the flavors in this dish. It’s a Spanish cheese made from sheep’s milk and has a mild but distinctive nutty flavor to it.  The trick to this recipe is to get just enough cheese into the ‘pocket’ that you are creating in the chicken breast so that you get a little bit with every bite, but not so much that it falls out while cooking the chicken.  That’s where the prosciutto comes in handy.  One it adds a nice crispy texture when cooked and a bit of saltiness.  But it’s also the key to keeping that cheese inside.  And the shallot-lemon pan sauce is so quick and easy to make but really makes this dish sing.  If you haven’t fried sage leaves before just give it a try.  Maybe have a few extra on hand in case you burn a few. The goal is to get them just crisp but not burned but it’s tricky to tell when they are done because they are green.  I like to go just under where I think they should be and then put them on the paper towels to drain and salt them right away with just a tiny bit of sea salt.  They should crisp up as they cool and they add a bit of green to the plate.  Plus sage is a great fall, seasonal herb that you probably have on hand for Thanksgiving anyway.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Separate the chicken into 4 pieces. I like to separate the smaller part into one portion and the breast part into it’s own portion.  That way the thicker breasts cook evenly and the smaller pieces do as well, although for less time.
  2. Make a slit in each piece of chicken about 2 inches long (without cutting through all the way).  You want to create a little pocket by then running your knife carefully horizontally across the middle of the chicken breast about another ½ inch.  Stuff this ‘pocket’ with the cheese. It’s okay to break the cheese apart if needed.  Salt and pepper each side of the chicken breast and then wrap each piece in a whole slice of proscuitto.  Try to get the ‘seam’ on non-cheese stuffed side as it will make it easier to hold together in the pan.  Try to get the proscuitto to completely cover the cheese part so it doesn’t fall out in the pan.
  3. In a large, oven proof skillet heat 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil and then, when hot, add the chicken to the pan, seam side down.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes on the first side and 2-3 on the second.  Flip them back over so seam side is down and cheese side is up and then finish them in the oven.  Cook time will depend on the thickness of the breast and the smaller pieces will finish first.  Approximately 7-10 minutes.  Remove chicken from pan but keep the brown bits and juices in the pan.
  4. On the stove top add the last tablespoon of olive oil to the pan over medium heat and then fry the whole sage leaves for 20-30 seconds per side and drain on paper towels.  Salt the sage leaves when they are still hot.  They will not appear crisp in the pan but they will become crisp as they cool slightly.  Do not overcook or they will be bitter.
  5. Increase the heat to medium high and add in the shallots and white wine, stirring with a wooden spoon and scraping off the bits of brownings from the bottom of the pan. Cook for 2 minutes then add in the lemon juice and lemon zest and butter.  Whisk until just combined, about 30 seconds more and remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.
  6. On the plate serve the chicken breast with a little of the sauce around the plate and over the top of the chicken. Drizzle with garlic oil. Garnish with the fried sage leaves.

 

1 ¼ lbs skinless, boneless chicken breast
3 oz Manchego cheese (approximately 4 pieces about 1 ½ inches long and ½ inch wide)
4 whole slices Proscuitto
3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
6 whole sage leaves
1 lemon (juice and zest)
2 shallots, finely diced
½ cup dry white wine
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Drizzle of garlic oil (optional)
Salt and Pepper

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