Monday, December 12, 2005

Don't Throw That Chicken Skin Away

Ready to eat Just out of the oven, before slicing

ready to go into the oven with a few extras on top
Rolled and tied

Looking at the picture of pollo ripieno from the Central market in Florence reminded me of something I hadn't cooked in a while. Stuffed chicken breasts are really easy and look so nice when sliced on the plate. Most recipes that I see for stuffed chicken breast start with boneless chicken breasts. Starting with whole, unboned, unskined breast is much better for two reasons. It turns out better and it cost less. Don't worry if you have never boned a chicken breast before. It's really easy and this recipe is very forgiving.
1. First remove the skin in one piece. This shouldn't be hard with a sharp knife. The skin, along with some cotton string is what holds the whole thing together. It will provide basting as well as more flavor. If you can't get it off in one piece, don't worry.
2. Try to remove the breasts from the bone in one piece if possible. If not, don't worry. Then slice the whole breast across so you get thinner pieces. Again if it falls apart remain calm.
3. Lay the skin down on your worksurface. If it broke in two overlap it a little.
4. Next lay the chicken pieces on top in one thin layer.
5. Add seasoned breadcrumbs that have been moistened with a little milk or egg or butter as the next thin layer.
6. The next layer can be anything you want. I like spinach which has been steamed or nuked because it tastes good and looks colorful. Ring out the juice before putting in spinach. Ham is nice. A little cheese would work and for something really colorful I've used roasted red peppers and spinach. Capers are nice. You get the idea. It's not a recipe. It's a concept. On this particular one I used spinach, fontina cheese and seasoned bread crumbs on top of the chicken.
7. Now you are ready to roll it up and tie it. This is where the skin on the bottom comes in really handy. It really helps hold it all together.
8. Now put a little butter or olive oil in a pan and brown the roll. This is to get the skin nice and brown. I actually forgot this step which is why my finished product had rubber looking skin.
9. If you want you can optionally add something to add more flavor. In this case I added prosciutto and a sprig of rosemary on top of it.
10. Put it in the oven at 350F or your favorite temperature until a thermometer reads whatever temperature you eat chicken at.
11. Take it out. Let it rest a bit and then slice with a sharp knife and serve with juices left over from the browning and roasting. I grabbed a dull knife and wrecked mine a little when slicing.

For this recipe I used the whole breast I cut from a 3 lb chicken. It was not very big but made 6 small slices and would serve two people. There's also no reason that you can not use dark meat. Using the skin means that the meat doesn't have to be one continuous piece. Although the less pieces of meat the easier it is to roll up.

So surf around for some actual recipes, but my suggestion is modify them to use regular breasts that you bone yourself so you can get the skin for better flavor and easier rolling


  1. Andrea4:56 PM

    So what temperature do you eat chicken at?

  2. Ah, you make my mouth water... Tonight we had ham from one of our pigs. Delicious.

    On the topic of chicken skins, I am fortunate, my son Will does not like to eat them. So I get his. I love them fried up crisp like bacon. It is good to live with someone who does not appreicate the finer bits. :) Reminds me of Jack Spratt and his wife.