Mediterranean chicken wrapped in pancetta

Ingredients

Serves 4

 

For the paste:

  • 100g sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • 2 tbsp oil from the tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed
  • 1 handful basil, leaves and stalks
  • 1 handful pitted black olives, rinsed
  • salt and pepper

To assemble:

  • 12 slices pancetta
  • 4 chicken breasts, skins removed
  • a good glug of white wine

Timings

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Total time: 1 hourΒ 

Mediterranean chicken wrapped in pancetta

We used to cook a similar version of this dish for weddings when I worked for a catering company in the Cotswolds and it has now become a staple favourite of mine. I’ve tweaked it to make it quicker and more flavoursome. The tomatoes and basil bring a lovely freshness to the dish, the capers and olives add a natural saltiness and the pancetta adds smokiness and depth. Both the stuffing and the wrapping mean that the chicken breasts stay beautiful and juicy.

Method

Preheat the oven to 180/350/gas 4.

Make the paste by blitzing all the ingredients together in a hand blender. Spread out your pancetta on a large board in rows of 3, with each piece slightly overlapping another. Have the paste ready as it’s quite a messy affair.

Using a sharp knife, remove the chicken fillet (the thin finger-like part on the underside of the breast) and keep to one side… you don’t need them here and they can be kept for a stir-fry, adding to a chicken curry or for slicing thinly into vermicelli noodle soup at a later date. Place the breast vertically on your board, smooth-side up. Cut the breast lengthways down one side, almost all the way through, but keeping the far long end attached so that you can open it up like a book. With the smooth side facing down, spread a heaped teaspoon of the paste in the book and close it to make a sandwich.

Place it on top of the pancetta and roll up the breast, making sure that no chicken flesh is showing. Tuck the ends in and repeat for the other breasts. Place in a lightly oiled roasting tray, sprinkle with black pepper and a good glug of white wine.

Roast for 35-40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken, or until the breasts are firm to the touch. Any give, and they will need to be cooked for longer. They should feel hard when pressed and not ‘fleshy’.

Take the chicken out of the oven, and cover it in tin foil for 5 minutes to let the juices rest. Meanwhile, pour the juices from the roasting tin into saucepan and reduce for at least 2 minutes to thicken and strengthen the flavours. This will be your sauce, so taste taste to see whether you wish to reduce it further.

Slice the chicken and serve with buttered new potatoes or butterbean puree, green vegetables, and of course the gorgeous sauce.

DOWNLOAD OR PRINT RECIPE HERE.

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Mediterranean ingredients are heavenly – they add layers of flavour by combining the ying and the yang. Notice the layers as you enjoy eating it and you’ll begin to work out what I mean.Β 

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