I’m just going to warn you up front. This was really good. Yes, there are a few steps, but I’ve tried my best to guide you through with photos. Maybe a few too many photos, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.
This recipe is from Lydia Bastianich and she’s one of my favorite chefs. I just love when she’s on the Today Show and talks to Al Roker about olive oil or “real” balsamic vinegar, which apparently is very hard to come by these days. Her website is called Lidia’s Italy and I’m always hungry when I get done visiting her site or her blog.
Oh, and I wish I lived back in NY so I could dine regularly at Felidia.
Let’s get started shall we?
You’ll need 10 fresh sage leaves. On a separate note, has anyone had any luck with growing fresh sage. It doesn’t seem to work for me.
In the bowl of a food processor, add 1 onion, 1 carrot and 1 large stalk of celery cut into chunks and 4 of the sage leaves, 2 cloves of garlic and pulse into everything is minced.
Add 2 tbsp of olive oil into a skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently until the “pestata” begins to stick to the bottom of the pan. Season with 1/2 tsp of salt. This will take several minutes.
You’ll need about 2 1/2 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. While the pestata (filling) is cooking, pound the chicken thighs with a mealt mallet to an even thickness of about 1/2 inch. Sprinkle salt lightly on both sides of the chicken. Then add about 1 tbsp of the pestata to each chicken thigh.
Use a small butter knife to spread out the tablespoon of filling as close to the edges as you can.
Fold the filled chicken thighs into thirds.
Use 1 piece of bacon per each filled chicken thigh and wrap it around to cover. I had 12 chicken thighs to wrap so I used 12 pieces of bacon.
Cover the chicken thigh as well as you are able and have kitchen twine ready to go. It would be helpful to cut the lengths needed ahead of time so that by the time you get to this step you’re all set. Lydia suggests using a toothpick to hold the bacon in place, so use whichever technique you prefer.
Here is a chicken bundle wrapped in a slice of bacon and neatly tied. Cute, no?
I set up an assembly line of sorts on my kitchen island and then put the wrapped and tied bundles onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.
In a large skillet, add the remaining 3 tbsp of olive oil and set over medium-high heat. Cook the bundles, turning them when the bacon begins to sizzle and render its fat. Saute 5 additional minutes, turning them several times. As they brown, drop the remaining pestata by spoonfuls in between the chicken bundles and add the remaining sage leaves.
Here’s what they looked like during the browning process with the remaining pestata in the skillet as well. The kitchen smelled just wonderful at this point.
Finally, add 2 cups of dry white wine to the skillet and raise the heat so that the wine cooks off a bit and is simmering. Reduce the wine by half. Pour the 3 cups of canned plum tomatoes (crushed with your hands) over the chicken bundles and shake the pan to combine the wine with the tomatoes. Season with the remaining 1 tsp of salt and bring the liquid to a boil. Cover and adjust the heat down so that the liquid is bubbling gently (not boiling) and braise until the thighs are cooked through and tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
I decided to slice mine and plate the sauce first and then lay the little spirals on top of the sauce. And I added a garnish of fresh sage. Did I mention I love the smell of fresh sage?
Lydia suggests some fresh grated Grana Padano or Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese over the top, but I though they were just perfection without it.
Find the original recipe here.
Skillet Braised Chicken Bundles
1 medium onion, cut in chunks
1 large carrot, cut in chunks
1 stalk celery , cut in chunks
10 fresh sage leaves
2 plump garlic cloves, peeled
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, preferably 6 to 8 large thighs
6 slices bacon strips, thinly sliced, 2 inches wide
2 cups dry white wine
3 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed by hand
3 tablespoons Grana Padano, or Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
You will need a food processor; a heavy-bottomed, ovenproof skillet or sauté pan, 12-inch diameter or larger, with a cover; toothpicks.
Using a food processor, mince the onion, carrot, celery, 4 sage leaves, and the garlic into a fine- textured pestata. Pour 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into the big skillet, and set over medium heat. Stir the pestata into the oil, season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until it has wilted and just starts to stick to the pan bottom. Scrape all of the pestata into a bowl to cool.
Trim the chicken thighs of fat and any loose bits of flesh, and lay them open, boned side up, on a cutting board. One at a time, cover each thigh with a piece of plastic wrap, and pound it with a meat mallet (or other heavy implement) to an even thickness of about 1/2 inch. Sprinkle salt lightly on the flattened sides, using another 1/2 teaspoon in all.
Spread a tablespoon or so of the cooled pestata in a thin layer on each thigh, almost to the edges- use more or less depending on size. Fold the thighs over into thirds, as if folding a letter, and compress gently. Wrap a strip of bacon the long way around each bundle, so the open sides are partly sealed. Overlap the ends of the bacon and thread a toothpick through them to hold the strip in place.
Pour the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil into the big skillet-cleaned of pestata-and set over medium-high heat. Lay all the chicken bundles in the pan, turning them when the bacon starts sizzling and rendering fat. Sauté the fagottini for 5 minutes or longer, turning several times, so the bacon and chicken are lightly caramelized all over. As they brown, drop the remaining pestata by spoonfuls in between the bundles, along with the rest of the sage leaves, to cook on the pan bottom.
When everything is sizzling, pour in the wine and bring to a bubbling simmer. Cook until the wine has reduced by half, turning the fagottini occasionally. Pour the crushed tomatoes (and juices) all over the bundles, and shake the pan to mix them with the wine. Season with the remaining teaspoon salt, and bring the braising liquid to a boil over high heat. Cover the pan, adjust the heat to keep things bubbling steadily, and braise until the thighs are cooked through and tender, 25 to 30 minutes, depending on size. (If you’re not sure, slice discreetly into one of the bundles to check for doneness.)
If you want to finish the fagottini with a crisp gratinato topping, arrange a rack in the top part of your oven and preheat to 425 degrees while the chicken braises. When the meat is done, uncover the skillet, raise the heat, and reduce the braising liquid a bit, exposing the tops of the thighs. Turn off the heat, and carefully pull the toothpicks out of the bundles. Sprinkle a teaspoon or so of grated cheese over each, and set the skillet in the oven. Bake about 10 minutes, until the gratinato is golden, the bacon very crisp, and the sauce quite thick. Remove from the oven carefully.
To finish the fagottini on the stovetop: Reduce the braising juices in the uncovered pan a bit longer, until thickened to a sauce. Turn off the heat, pull out the toothpicks, sprinkle a teaspoon cheese over each, and set the cover back on for a minute, to melt the cheese.
Enjoy the day!