I hope you all enjoyed episode two of my Italian Food Trails. The series is being sponsored by Dunnes Stores Simply Better Range and I have to say I am just so delighted with how it has turned out.
I visited beautiful Parma in tonight’s episode and I had a brilliant time. It is known as the gourmet capital of Italy, and home to Parmesan cheese, Parma ham and balsamic vinegar.
I was introduced to the city by tour guide Amalda Cuka who explains that the region’s food traditions are many centuries old and I was delighted to meet Parma ham producer Paolo Tanara in La Prosciutteria, one of the city’s best known delicatessens.
It was fantastic to take to the skies for an aerial tour in a microlight to see the farmland and vineyards responsible for the region’s famous foods. What an experience!
The lunch I had in Ristorante Borsa in Valeggio Sul Mincio, a town with no less than 50 pasta restaurants, was just wonderful.
I also visited a wonderful a farm that produces the milk used for parmesan cheese. Isn’t it incredible to think that one thousand litres of milk are needed to produce 80kg of cheese. Below is the recipe for Pesto-stuffed Chicken Breasts wrapped in Parma Ham that I made in tonigh’s show and I really hope you are enjoying my Food Trails around Italy.
Pesto-Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Rustic Mixed Potatoes
125g (4 ½oz) ball of mozzarella, torn into small pieces
4 tbsp basil pesto
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast fillets
8 sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
8 slices of parma ham
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Rustic mixed potatoes:
450g (1lb) Rooster potatoes, scrubbed
225g (8oz) sweet potatoes, scrubbed
1 fresh rosemary sprig, broken into tiny sprigs
sea salt flakes
2 tbsp olive oil
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6). Mix together the mozzarella, pesto and sundried tomatoes. Cut a slit into the side of each chicken breast and then stuff with the pesto-covered cheese. Wrap each stuffed chicken breast with 2 slices of parma ham – not too tightly, but enough to hold the chicken together. Season with salt and pepper.
To make the rustic mixed potatoes, cut the potatoes and sweet potatoes into 5mm (¼in) slices – a Japanese mandolin is perfect for doing this – and arrange in a single layer on a large roasting tray lined with parchment paper. Add the garlic and rosemary and season with salt. Drizzle over the oil and toss until evenly coated. Nestle the pesto-stuffed chicken breasts in the potatoes and roast for 20–25 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the ham is crispy. Remove the chicken from the oven and rest in a warm place for 5 minutes. Return the potatoes to the oven in that time for a final crisp-up. To serve, arrange the pesto-stuffed chicken breasts on warmed serving plates with steamed French green beans and the rustic mixed potatoes.