Chicken Breast Valdostana

by Hilary Gauntt on February 5, 2017

When a restaurant in San Diego’s Little Italy ignored repeated requests from the Union-Tribune for the recipe for their Pollo Valdostana, the paper gave up and published one from a cookbook by famous restaurateur Lidia Bastianich. No one really has a lock on the recipe, as it is a popular dish in the Val D”Aosta region of Northern Italy and showcases three local ingredients : white wine, prosciutto and Fontina cheese. I made it ahead and transferred it from the pan to a casserole dish, ready to pop into the oven for the final baking right before dinner. Which made for a luscious, stress-free dinner!

6 medium (about 7 ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

6 thin slices imported Italian prosciutto

All-purpose flour

4 Tbs. unsalted butter (divided use)

2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup dry white wine, such as pinot grigio

1/2 cup chicken stock, or canned reduced sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup seeded and crushed canned tomatoes (preferably San Marzano brand)

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

6 ounces Italian Fontina cheese, sliced thin

2 Tbs. tomato sauce, or additional seeded and crushed tomatoes

2 Tbs. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Trim any excess fat, skin and cartilage from the chicken pieces. Place a piece of prosciutto over each chicken breast, trimming and layering each so it covers the chicken breasts as neatly as possible. Using the back of a large knife, gently pound the prosciutto into the chicken so that it adheres. Dredge the breasts in flour to coat them lightly and tap off any excess flour.

Heat 2 Tbs. butter and the olive oil in a 12 to 14 inch skillet with an oven-proof handle until the butter is foaming. Place in skillet as many chicken pieces, prosciutto side down, as will fit without touching. Cook just until they begin to brown, about 2 minutes. (Overcooking will toughen the prosciutto.) Turn chicken and cook until second side is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Repeat if necessary, with remaining chicken breasts, removing the browned chicken to make room. Adjust the heat as you work so the chicken doesn’t burn or stick in places.

Pour wine into the skillet and shake gently to dislodge any brown bits that stick to the pan. Boil until reduced by half. Pour chicken stock into the skillet and distribute crushed tomatoes and remaining two tablespoons butter in between pieces of chicken. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower heat so sauce is simmering, tilting skillet to mix sauce.

Drape sliced Fontina over chicken pieces to cover them completely. Dot center of each chicken piece with a small circle of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the chicken is cooked through, the sauce is bubbling, and the cheese is lightly browned around the edges, about 10 minutes. Very carefully remove the pan to the stove top and let stand a minute or two before serving. Serves 6.

chicken valdostana

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