This appetizer is a fusion of Italy and Mexico. Saltimbocca is an Italian dish, where escalopes of veal are topped with a sage leaf are wrapped in prosciutto and then pan-fried. Prosciutto is a thinly sliced dry-cured ham, very similar to bacon from Italy. Jalapeño peppers originate from Mexico. They are commonly used to make Jalapeño poppers, where the pepper is stuffed with cream cheese, breaded and cooked; or pickled and used to top nachos.
Wrapping the chicken in prosciutto doesn’t only impose flavor but also ensures that the meat stays moist. Chicken serves as a more subdued base than veal to allow the other flavors to rise. Combining rich and rustic influences of Italy and varied flavor and spices of Mexico in a dish may seem complex but this dish is fairly easy to make.
- 4 chicken breast fillets
- ½ 8-ounce package softened cream cheese
- 2 Jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped
- 12 sage leaves, washed
- 12 slices prosciutto
- Olive oil
- Place the chicken fillets in a bag or plastic wrap. Pound using a mallet or rolling pin to flatten and thin. This pounding will loosen the meat fibers to achieve a tender cooked finish easily. Cut into 4-5 inches long or into pieces that will fit into the prosciutto when rolled.
- Mix cream cheese and chopped Jalapeño peppers. Add salt, if preferred.
- Lay one flattened chicken fillet cut on a board. Place 1 sage leaf on top and ½ tsp. cream cheese- Jalapeño pepper mixture. Roll chicken to enclose the stuffing.
- Place rolled chicken on top of prosciutto. Roll prosciutto to wrap chicken. Secure using a toothpick. Repeat these 2 steps till all fillet cuts are done.
- Put a non-stick pan over low heat. Very lightly grease pan with olive oil. Pan-fry wrapped chicken till prosciutto appears golden.
This recipe is very versatile and can easily be customized. Cream cheese can be replaced with ricotta for a more Italian feel. Honey-cured bacon can be used to wrap the chicken for a touch of sweetness. Olives can be used with or in place of the peppers to minimize the heat. Since these appetizers are easy to make, it is a great idea to serve them during parties. Baking or grilling can also be done instead of pan-frying, since more servings are needed. Smaller portions may also be made to top cooked pasta and drizzled with olive oil. This dish is after all about fusion of different cuisine; don’t hesitate to take your spin on it.