Chicken is safe.
There are no grey areas between a rare piece of chicken and a cooked piece of chicken, so you aren’t doing that is it or isn’t it perfectly cooked dance. You also don’t typically hear people passionately proclaim they “don’t do chicken.” More often, it’s, “I don’t do red meat or seafood,” but not chicken – of course, unless you’re a full-fledged vegetarian. Although, I will say I’ve actually had a couple friends that have been pulled out vegetarianism after trying a teeny-tiny bite of chicken fingers…because if there’s anything that can change your stance on meat – it’s fried chicken.
So yes, chicken is definitely the safest and most widely accepted of all the meats, but chicken is also oftentimes super boring and bland, which is a shame, because, to me, it’s one of the most versatile proteins around. While I don’t shy away from red meat or seafood in the least (I couldn’t live without a juicy cheeseburger or perfectly seared filet of salmon), chicken is actually something we have at least once or twice a week. I’m not really one for repetition, so I’m always challenging myself to come up with new, creative ways to prepare it that won’t leave me yearning for one of those cheeseburgers come 9pm.
This pesto and prosciutto stuffed chicken fits the bill just perfectly. It’s super easy, ridiculously flavorful, and anything but boring, although it’s actually not new to me at all. My Mom started making this years ago, it’s an adaptation from an old Junior League cookbook, and while I can’t remember the first time she served it to us, I do know that it quickly became, and still is, a family favorite.
A hundred times more elevated than your typical grilled barbecue chicken (but almost as easy), this starts out with a super easy marinade of plenty of lemon juice, a copious amount of garlic and just a touch of olive oil. The chicken hangs out in the marinade for a couple of hours (any longer and the acid will start to cook the meat), is dried off and then smothered with fresh pesto and topped with a piece of salty prosciutto. It’s rolled up, secured with a toothpick and ready to be grilled.
Now I will say, you can go the easy or the more involved route here. If you want to take a shortcut, you can buy store-bought pesto, if you want to go the 100% homemade route, make your own. I, of course, almost always take the more arduous route, so I whipped up my own pesto, plus I like that I can control the amount of oil and fat that goes into it without sacrificing any flavor.
While the chicken is grilling, I throw together a quick cream sauce made with some shallots, garlic, diced tomato, a splash of dry sherry and a half cup or so of heavy cream. The mixture is simmered until it’s slightly reduced and then I add in a couple tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese, a little bit of fresh basil and then season it with salt and pepper.
Once the chicken comes off the grill, it’s transferred to a serving platter and then your dinner companions can sauce as they please.
Easy enough for a weeknight, fancy enough of a summer grilling soiree.
- 4 large chicken breasts
- ½ cup lemon juice
- 6 garlic cloves, grated
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup pesto
- 8 slices prosciutto
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons minced shallot
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ⅓ cup diced tomato
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ cup dry sherry
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons roughly chopped basil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cut chicken breasts in half lengthwise, so that one piece of thick chicken becomes one piece of thinly sliced chicken. Place chicken breasts under a piece of plastic wrap and pound until they are about ⅛ inch thick.
- Place chicken breasts in a large zip-lock baggie and add, lemon juice, grated garlic and olive oil. Massage mixture into the meat and pop into the fridge for two hours.
- Once your ready to grill, remove the chicken from the marinade, pat dry (it's ok if some of the garlic sticks to the inside) and sprinkle with a little bit of salt and pepper. Spread one tablespoon of pesto over the chicken, top with a piece of prosciutto. Roll the chicken up and secure with a toothpick. Repeat for remaining chicken breasts.
- Heat a grill to a medium-high heat. Cook until slightly charred and chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes per side.
- While the chicken is grilling, make the sauce. In a small sauce pan, heat olive oil to a medium heat. Add shallot and garlic. Cook until softened, about 1-2 minutes. Add in tomatoes, salt and sherry. Reduce sherry for 1-2 minutes. Add cream. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until slightly thickened and reduced, about 2-3 minutes. Add in parmesan cheese and basil. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve grilled chicken with a little bit of the cream sauce.