A note before I move on though… I’m not a huge fan of chicken, I mean, it’s pretty versatile and all, but it’s got nothing on red meat (again, the cow). Then again, try as I may, I couldn’t really see this red pesto going well with anything else. Before this attempt, my only other forays in the world of chicken were a mildly successful attempt at Jamie Oliver’s Dad’s Superb Chicken and a somewhat more successful version of Tyler Florence’s Cordon Blue (which is a great dish by the way).
I had been constructing this elaborate dish of chicken three ways in my mind for a while now (a liver risotto, chicken leg confit and a roulade) but never had the time to get it together. So, when my cousin came over for a visit from London and asked me to cook for him, I decided to eliminate the confit and risotto and just go for the roulade. So here goes (to serve 4):
For the Chicken:
5 Skinned and boned chicken breasts, about 200g each, trim the fat and sinew off them, and any oddly shaped excess meat to make them look nice and uniform, then butterfly them carefully using a sharp knife.
About half a jar’s worth of the red pesto
4-6 baby spinach leaves per chicken breast
5 large button mushrooms chopped fine-ishly
Butter and olive oil for cooking and browning
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C
Place a layer of cling film on a chopping board and place one of your butterflied breasts (skin side down) on the board. Cover the breast with another layer of cling film (so no nasty bits fly all over the place) and hammer it with a mallet. Be forceful, but don’t go nuts, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t rupture the breast. Continue beating it until you get a nice even 1cm piece of chicken
Now to construct the roulade, here’s a nice youtube tutorial , so basically, spread a nice even generous layer of the red pesto on the breast, sprinkle some mushroom and lay the spinach leaves, then roll the breast as in the video. You can keep the roulade in place using cooking twine, or chopsticks.
In a nice wide pan, pour in approx 2 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp of unsalted butter and melt over a medium high heat, once the foam subsides, place the roulades in the pan and brown well, about 2-3min on each side, until they’re nice and golden. Baste with the butter and oil as they brown.
Remove from the pan, and place the chicken on a baking tray, drizzle the oil and butter from the pan on the chicken, cover loosely with aluminium foil and place in the oven for 12-15min until cooked through but still moist.
Take the chicken out and slice breasts into 2-3cm discs, they should start to look great now.
While the chicken’s in the oven, you can now work on your sauce.
For the Sauce:
1 chopped garlic clove
1/2 cup of red wine
1 cup of chicken stock
1 tbsp of tomato puree
1/2 tsp of arrowroot to thicken
1 tbsp of butter
in the same pan used for the chicken and on a high heat, add a lug or two of olive oil and a small tsp of butter, throw in the garlic and sautee quickly for about a minute, make sure not to burn the garlic. Add the tomato puree and cook for another minute of so. Pour in the wine and the stock and let the sauce reduce by about a third. Taste often and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. If the sauce becomes too strong and over reduced, add more wine and stock in equal proportions. Once you’re happy with the flavor of the sauce, and if it’s not the consistency you want, add in the arrowroot while whisking continuously. Add the butter at the end and melt it in to give the sauce a nice velvety taste and shine.
Finally, sieve the sauce onto your plate and place the best looking roulades on it (any extras go into the fridge to eat the next day!) and enjoy!