Expanding your skills can lead to new and more interesting dishes and meals for the family. Three years ago I thought of myself as an OK cook and a pretty decent baker. Recipes didn’t scare me off and I was willing to try anything. So when I saw a recipe in Fine Cooking Magazine (issue 91) for this dish I was intrigued. It was ok but I wasn’t a fan of how any of it was cooked. The original recipe called for red perl onions, mushrooms with the stems trimmed off, and zucchini cut into half inch moon pieces. The chicken it called for was a whole chicken cut into eight pieces and other than making a sauce and a glaze the whole thing baked in the oven.
I did this recipe as directed. I wasn’t a fan of the chicken on the bone, I wasn’t a fan of size of any of the vegetables, and I wasn’t a fan of how it was presented. Shortly after this dinner I start sketching an alternate version.
I jotted down my thoughts in my cooking note book and I decided that next time zucchinis we in season I would try this recipe again. As with all the best of intentions time when by and I just kept putting it off. During that time though my skills in the kitchen greatly improved and I knew a lot more as well as had some new tools to help make this dish everything I had hoped for.
When thinking about a dish I want to play with I start with thinking about the key flavors. There’s chicken, mushrooms, onions, and zucchini. When I strip a recipe that far down it allows me to think much clearer about what can be done and about the inspiration.
First off I knew the chicken had to come off the bone and the veggies needed to be smaller in size. At the time of my sketch I was very into the idea of roulades so the idea of making a vegetable mince inside the breasts, rolling them, and cooking them. I also knew that I wanted to use squash blossoms as well as a bed a vegetables to put it on. This was the trickiest part of the idea. Squash blossoms wilt and shrivel quickly so the best way to get them is right off the plant right before using them. Interestingly enough my zucchini plants never seemed to have good blossoms and zucchinis at the same time.
Just by happenstance we planted both zucchini and butternut squash this year. My zucchini was about the same, not putting on many blossoms or zucchinis, but my squash this year is extremely prolific. I knew this was my opportunity to work on my idea of how to reconstruct this dish.
Mediterranean Chicken with Mushrooms and Zucchini
FOR THE GLAZE:
- 3 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
- 3 stems Fresh Rosemary, minced
- 1 teaspoon Light Brown Sugar, firmly packed
- Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 4 ounces Malbec (red wine)
FOR THE MUSHROOMS:
- 8 large Mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
FOR THE VEGETABLES AND CHICKEN:
- ½ medium Red Onion, diced
- 8 ounces large Mushrooms, Shiitake or Baby Bellas
- 2 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 8 ounces Zucchini, diced
- 2 Chicken Breasts
- 6 slices Prosciutto*
- 8 Squash Blossoms
Preheat your sous vide to 149ºf.
De-bone and remove the skin of the breast if present. Butterfly the breast and pound flat to have an even thickness.
Dice all your vegetables. Set ⅔ of them aside and place the other third, along with a generous pink of salt into a food processor or mini chopper. Pulse until well minced. Spoon half the mixture onto the center of each of the breasts. Roll the chicken around the mixture and tie around each end and once or twice between.
*Another option from tying would be to use the prosciutto. Lay out three slices, barley overlapping. Place the chicken at the edge so that it’s overlapping all three slices. Roll the chicken and prosciutto so that it’s full encompasses the chicken. Place each chicken breast into their own quart ziplock bag and place in the sous vide once it’s reached temperature. Cook for 2 hours.
After the chicken is done in the sous vide:
Turn on the broiler in your oven with the rack at it’s highest position.
Start with making your glaze. Put all the ingredients into a small sauce pan, bring to a boil, and reduce by half. Set aside.
Take your large mushrooms, one at a time, and dip them in your glaze cap side down. Turn them right side up and place them in a muffin tin. This will hold them upright in the oven. Once all 8 mushrooms are done place them under the broiler just for a few minutes, just until you see the glaze sizzling. Pull them out of the oven, brush with a little olive oil, and set them aside.
In a large pan sauté the pancetta just until it begins to brown. Add the onions, mushrooms, and zucchini that you had diced and set aside. Sauté until you begin to see caramelization. Add any remaining glaze and sauté just until the pan looks nearly dry. Divide the vegetables onto the plates.
Using the pan you sautéed the vegetables in, remove the chicken from the ziplock bags, and sear on all sides until you get a coloring you’re happy with. Remember this is NOT about cooking the chicken this is just about getting a good color on it.
Slice each chicken breast into 6 pieces, putting 3 on each plate next to the sautéed veggies. Nestle 2 mushrooms per plate along with 2 squash blossoms.
** In the picture I had mini squashes growing when I picked my blossoms so I picked them as well. I sautéed them in the pan with the chicken breasts