S brought back a bunch of Italian condiments, herbs, even prosciutto back from her December trip for me to cook with, which resulted in a trip to her house last week to prepare Mario Batali’s Chicken Saltimbocca to use the fresh prosciutto. She didn’t make to Parma, but I assume the prosciutto was bought on their last stop, then hung outside the hotel windows to keep cool (in the absence of a fridge. Most of the hotels we stayed in in Italy didn’t have a fridge, except maybe the Forli airport hotel, in which we discovered that I had forgotten to bring the Asus eeepad charger and that I had drained the tablet battery playing Wind Up Knight on just the first night of our 4 day trip to Bologna in 2011 :P)
My only gripe about the recipe was the fact that my parma ham just would not stick to the chicken (even with tooth picks and all) – I suppose she brought back some pretty good quality Parma ham, which meant that it was sliced super thin and shouldn’t be used for cooking anyway. I suppose if I bought the prosciutto from a local supermarket where it’s been treated to not fall apart my chicken saltimbocca would have been a lot more successful.
Another note about the recipe is that the part where you coat the prosciutto wrapped chicken breast cutlets in a corn flour/starch dredge is very important in keeping the resultant chicken tender. Read more about velveting meat here. Do not on any account skip that step. Corn flour extremely cheap, only about $1 for a whole box that can last you a year.
The fresh sage I plucked from my balcony garden did a fantastic job of flavouring my chicken breasts. Sage in general is a pretty versatile spice that is largely used in cooking with poultry (turkey stuffing, etc.)
For carbs I made Kenji’s Ultra Crispy New Potatoes:
which really were ultra crispy, only I didn’t toss them with olive oil, garlic, or lemon zest, I just used peanut oil, salt, pepper, roasted it at 250°C in the oven for nearly half an hour (after they were boiled), and then served it with genovese pesto. The pesto she bought had a strong pecorino note, and was perfect with the potatoes, although very salty and should only be used in moderation.
After dinner we enjoyed a little urn of the limoncello she acquired in Amalfi. It’s extremely strong, but much sweeter than the limoncello we had in Rimini.
S is actually a pretty decent cook and she always makes breakfast for us when we stay over – typically toast with ham, dried cranberries/blueberries, walnuts, and grated cheese.
There’s also usually a plate of cut oranges and blue berries; this time we had Korean Hwaseong grapes (most similar to concorde grapes).
She taught me to nibble a small slit at the top of the grape (where it has been plucked off from the stem) then sort of just suck it out of its skin – works like a charm! Saves me the trouble of peeling its skin off. Concordes have extremely thick skin that are a pain to peel off.