I mentioned Involtini di Vitello (or Stuffed Rolls of Veal) in my last post and thought it might be fun to give you a recipe for these scrumtpious little rolls, also known as Braciole. The first time I made them was for twenty or so friends on Christmas Eve. I chose six dishes from Lidia Bastianich and created an Italian feast. Since then, I’ve made versions of this with veal, beef, pork and chicken and the different kinds of stuffing you can do is infinite.
And I almost never do it just for dinner parties anymore – you can whip up these little gems at naptime and let them steep in the lovely garlic and olive oil concoction for a few hours. (They are even yummier!) Then, pop ‘em in the oven 20 minutes before you call the troops to the table. The smell after they warm up is simply divine!
You can find the complete recipe for veal rolls in Lidia’s Italian American Kitchen, but this is the “Yummy Mummy” version and last night, I used some chicken breasts I found in the fridge. If you are buying meat, you should buy thin slices or pound the meat between two sheets of plastic wrap so it is nice and thin and easy to roll. If you only have plump breasts taking up space in the fridge, you will find them un-rollable. But as an alternative, I slice the tops off the breast and lay the ingredients on the bottom piece and put the top back on like a sandwich. For the record, every incarnation of this has been delightful.
Involtini di Pollo
(Stuffed Rolls of Chicken)
Again, forgive me for spitballing the recipe. I have yet to do the precise measuring…you know, two small kids, husband, writing career and all. This recipe serves four. Here’s what you should prepare ahead at naptime. It should take you ten minutes from prep to clean up.
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
½ cup of fine, dry bread crumbs
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
1 jar roasted red peppers
8 thin slices of chicken (approximately 1 pound - or in a pinch, four plump chicken breasts, sliced long ways through the middle)
2 medium-sized leeks, chopped finely
3 oz. Pancetta (10 super thin slices)
6 ounces goat cheese
1 Pint of Cherry Tomatoes
2 Tablespoons of chopped, fresh basil
Put the olive oil in a small dish and add the garlic. Let the intense garlic get all lovey-dovey in the oil. Lay the meat out on a flat surface (If you are using a breast, put aside the tops of the breast to use as a cover) and generously sprinkle the bread crumbs on the meat. Consider using approximately ¾ of the breadcrumbs to do this. Dribble ½ of the olive oil (garlic nubs and all) over the breadcrumbs and save the rest. Crumble the goat cheese over each slice of chicken. Lay one roasted red pepper slice over the cheese. Sprinkle the leeks over each. Add a slice of pancetta over the top and a sprinkle of basil.
Roll up the scallopine into compact rolls (or if you are using breasts, pop the top – which you set aside - on like sandwich). Drape a few slices of pancetta over the top. Secure the roll with a toothpick to keep them intact while they cook. Put the little buggers in a roasting pan, side by side, dust them with the remaining bread crumbs and sprinkle them with the garlic-infused olive oil. You can add more if you feel particularly hedonistic…Go ahead! Who’s watching?
Then, halve the cherry tomatoes. Use the whole pint and drop them around the rolls, letting them take a glorious bath in the garlic and olive oil. Throw some gorgeous green basil shreds in with them and pop it in the fridge until 20 minutes before dinner. Then, go take your kids out to the park and have a great day!
When you are ready to eat:
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Take the rolls out of the fridge and bake until the breadcrumbs are golden and the cheese is melty. This is about 20 minutes. Take them out and serve up this scrumptious meal (with only one pan and a couple of plates to wash up).
And even better, you'll all be eating together...while the kids huck cherry tomatoes at each other across the dinner table. Sounds like a beautiful life to me!