Of the many Italianesque pounded chicken breast sautés with melted cheese, this one's our favorite.
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (each about 4 ounces)
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
8 whole fresh sage leaves
scant 1/4 pound very thinly sliced prosciutto
2 eggs, beaten
8 thin slices Italian fontina (about 2 ounces)
for the sauce (optional)
1 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, chilled
1. Remove the flap of chicken from the underside of each breast fillet, and reserve for another use. Cut each breast across the center into 2 pieces, each piece roughly square in shape. Place the 8 pieces of chicken breast on a large piece of wax paper, and cover with another piece of wax paper. Pound the chicken pieces with a mallet, or a heavy cleaver, until each one is approximately 1/8 inch thick. Season with freshly ground pepper, and reserve.
2. Heat the butter over moderate heat in a very large sauté pan. When it's foaming, add the sage leaves and cook them on each side for 1 minute. Remove immediately, and place each leaf on one of the reserved chicken pieces. Then, wrap each piece completely in a single layer of prosciutto.
3. Dip the wrapped chicken pieces, one at a time, in the beaten eggs, coating them well. Make sure the butter in the sauté pan is foaming, golden, and not browned. Then place the chicken pieces in the pan. (Do not crowd. If your pan's not large enough to hold the chicken in one layer, cook it in 2 batches.) Cook chicken pieces about 2 minutes on each side, or until they're just past pink on the inside, golden on the outside. Remove.
4. Place chicken pieces on a flat baking sheet, and cover each piece with a slice of fontina. Place under a preheated broiler until the cheese just melts, about 1 minute. Divide chicken among 4 plates and serve immediately, with or without sauce.
5. If making sauce: While the cheese is melting, pour out the butter from the sauté pan. Add the white wine to the pan, place over high heat, and reduce the wine to a scant 1/2 cup. Add the minced sage about a minute before the reduction is complete. Reduce the heat to low, and whisk in the chilled butter. Adjust seasoning, and pour over and around the chicken.
Of the many Italianesque pounded chicken breast sautés with melted cheese, this one's our favorite. The reason is the coating: just egg (no flour or crumbs), which gives the chicken a wonderful, golden color, as well as a heartwarming flavor. Use mellow, relatively unsalty, nicely fatty Italian prosciutto for wrapping the breasts. And use a full-Flavored, nutty fontina from the Val d'Aosta for melting on top. The dish is lovely just as it is -- but we like to gild the lily by adding to it a tart, light, wine-and-butter sauce that's made in moments in the sauté pan. Serves 4