Veal Saltimbocca is a hoary old classic trotted out of kitchens stretching from Verona, Italy all the way to New Sarpy, Louisiana.

But it’s a classic for a reason. It can be one of the best things you ever put in your mouth if it’s prepared under the stewardship of a cook who knows what he’s doing.

I was catering a party for two dozen people back at the dawn of the aughts, and the hostess requested Saltimbocca with a fearful caveat that her guest might turn their noses up at veal. We decided to substitute chicken in its stead. I was deeply immersed in Cajun cooking at the time (my employer was from Louisiana) so I decided to blacken the chicken and substitute Tasso ham for the more traditional prosciutto.

After some browbeating I also managed to coax the party-thrower into letting me use chicken thighs instead of breasts.

Here’s my recipe for Blackened Chicken Saltimbocca With Tasso Ham (scaled down to feed six eaters)

6 Chicken Thigh Paillards aka ‘pounded thin chicken’-use a mallet, a rolling pin or a heavy pan to accomplish this
Butter for sautéing (blackening)
6 slices tasso ham
6 slices Provolone cheese
Blackening Seasoning (recipe at bottom or purchase your favorite brand
————————————

1/2 c. Onion, sweet, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz Mushrooms, sliced
1 c. Wine, white
1 c. Stock, chicken
1 T. Sage, sliced thin
1 c. Sherry, Fino
1 c. Cream, heavy, whipping

Method

* Heat butter til smoke comes off pan
* Liberally coat chicken thighs with blackening seasoning
* Introduce chicken to hot pan
* Cook side ‘a’ for approximately 90 seconds (you want a good black crust on your meat, only cook side ‘a’)
* Arrange thighs in lightly buttered casserole pan
* Top each thigh with one slice tasso and one slice cheese

————————————–

* Cook onion and garlic til soft
* Add mushrooms, white wine, stock and sage
* Bring to a boil, cook 10 minutes
* Add sherry, cook five minutes more
* Add cream, reduce liquid by one fourth (cooking approximately 10 minutes,the sauce will try to climb out of pan-be careful)
* Pour sauce around chicken thighs
* Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes

The sauce for this dish is one of the best things I ever tasted. You could just make it and serve it as a soup.
This dish may be served over any style pasta, rice or polenta.

It may look a bit daunting but it’s actually a breeze as there is very little knife work in the prep

Blackening Seasoning
1 T. Paprika
1 T. Black Pepper
1 T. White Pepper
1 T. Garlic Powder
1 T. Onion Powder
1 t. Cayenne
2 T. Corn Starch [prevents clumping]

* Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in Tupperware

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