Chicken Breasts & Thighs Pounded, Wrapped in Pancetta, Filled w/ a Cilantro, Feta, Mint Pesto and Covered in a Blood Orange Sauce

By • March 6, 2010 1 Comments

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Author Notes: This is a variation on my Chicken Wrapped In Prosciutto and was inspired after the very talented, wonderfully inspiring and knowledgeable Antonia James suggested Cilantro in the pesto in another dish I submitted. Made the pesto, had a big bowl sitting there and some beautiful chicken thighs and breasts begging me to create something interesting with them and thus this recipe was created. It uses the same 3-Day Blood Orange Reduction from the other Chicken recipe, so if you have made the (rather large) batch you can use the same sauce for this. I liked the lemony aspect this pesto created. The two acids worked well together and the cilantro pesto created a rich, layered slightly subtle filling. Hope you like it. And thanks AJ for the suggestion!coffeefoodwritergirl


Serves 4

For the Chicken Breasts and/or Thighs:

  • 2- 4 boneless breasts and/or thighs of chicken – pounded to about ½ inch thick
  • 1 recipe Mint, Feta, Pine Nut, Cilantro Pesto (to follow)
  • 1 recipe 3-day Blood Orange Reduction (to follow)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • about 3 slices pancetta (thinly sliced) per thigh or breast (aprox. 12 total if making 4 pieces)
  • Additional kitchen tools: Kitchen twine/string
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Lay chicken out on flat surface. Place about 1-2 tablespoons of Pesto in each pounded chicken breast or thigh. Roll up tight, like a burrito (some of the pesto make attempt to escape; just roll as tight as you can and know that you can patch it up with the pancetta and the string.) Cover each breast or thigh in pancetta, making sure to cover all ends, so there are no holes. Wrap tightly with kitchen string; first on long ends, then twice around middles, so all is secure.
  3. Heat saucepan over medium high heat. Place olive oil in pan. Add rolled breasts or thighs and sear until gold and uniform in color (you may have to adjust the heat a bit from medium to medium high as you cook). Making sure to get the small (horizontal) ends as well – you want the whole thing nicely golden and browned, no raw pancetta pieces!
  4. Place in casserole dish and bake for 15 minutes (for breasts) and 25 minutes for thighs. When cooked remove from oven and let rest for about five minutes.
  5. Place on serving platter or individual plates; slice on the diagonal; spoon sauce over top and eat to your hearts content!

For the Pesto: (can be made a day ahead)

  • A handful of mint (a little under a cup)
  • A large handful of cilantro (a very full cup)
  • a little under ½ cup pine nuts (raw if possible)
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from about one small lemon)
  • ¼ cup Bulgarian feta (or any feta will work)
  • your very best extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 5 turns course ground black pepper
  1. Place all ingredients into food processor (or blender if you do not have). Drizzle a little olive oil in to moisten, then pulse a few times, and continue to drizzle olive oil in until reaches a smooth and fluid, but still very thick consistency. Check for salt and pepper and add more lemon juice if necessary; then blend on high until as smooth as possible.
  2. For the Blood Orange Reduction: (can be made up to three days ahead – it gets better with time...) Ingredients: 9 large blood oranges – peeled and skinned 1 regular orange 1 cup tangerine juice 2 cups red wine ½ cup orange liquor (we used Orange Curacao) ¾ cup port
  3. Just throw everything into a large pot and cook down for about 5 hours or so, until thick and fragrant. Spoon over stuffed chicken or use for other (very interesting) things...

More Great Recipes: Entrees|Chicken|Chicken Breasts|Pesto