Chicken Breast Valdostana with Braised Lentils

Chicken Breast Valdostana with Braised Lentils


For the Braised Lentils with Spinach:
2 cups brown lentils
2 small onions, diced (about 1 and 1/2 cups)
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
1 stalk celery, trimmed and diced (about 1 and 1/2 cups)
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup chicken stock or chicken broth
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups finely shredded fresh spinach, thoroughly washed and drained

For the Chicken Valdostana:
6 medium (about 7-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
6 thin slices imported Italian prosciutto
All-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock or chicken broth
1/2 cup seeded and crushed canned Italian tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces Italian Fontina cheese, sliced thin
2 tablespoons tomato sauce or additional seeded and crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Prepare the Braised Lentils with Spinach:
Pour enough cold water over the lentils, onions, carrots, celery, and bay leaves in a 3-quart saucepan to cover by three fingers.

Season with salt and bring to a boil over high heat.

Adjust the heat so the water is at a gentle boil and cook until the lentils are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Drain the lentils, discard the bay leaves, and transfer to a large skillet.

Pour in the chicken stock and olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil and cook until the liquid is reduced enough to coat the lentils, about 3 minutes.

Scatter the spinach over the lentils and toss just until the spinach is wilted, about 1 minute.

Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary. Serve immediately.

Prepare the Chicken Valdostana:
Preheat oven to 375° F.

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 it adheres.

Dredge the chicken breasts in flour to coat them lightly and tap off any excess flour.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and the olive oil in a 12 to 14-inch skillet with an ovenproof handle until the butter is foaming.

Place in the skillet as many of the 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 the chicken and cook until the second side is golden brown, about 3 minutes.

Repeat, if necessary with the 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 the wine into the skillet and shake gently to dislodge any brown bits that stick to the pan.

Boil until reduced by half.

Pour the chicken stock into the skillet and distribute the crushed tomatoes and remaining 2 tablespoons butter in between the pieces of chicken.

Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the sauce is simmering, tilting the skillet to mix the sauce.

Drape the sliced Fontina over the chicken pieces to cover them completely.

Dot the center of each chicken breast with a small circle of tomato sauce or a small mound of 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.

While the chicken is in the oven, finish the braised lentils.

Very carefully remove the pan to the stovetop and let stand a minute or two before serving.

Spoon a mound of lentils onto the center of a warm dinner plate.

Top with a chicken breast and spoon some of the sauce around the lentils. Serves 6.

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