I think I may be related to Ina Garten’s husband Jeffrey, at least in the love of chicken department. Like him, anyway you prepare it I just love chicken. Ina makes it for him every Friday. I have it at least once a week and sometimes more. Because of that fact I’m always looking for new chicken recipes and especially the ones that are easy to prepare and super delicious.
This recipe is one of my husband’s favorites. Every time I make it he always comments on how much he enjoys it. I love it for its combination of ingredients – boneless chicken breasts, genoa salami, provolone cheese, asparagus and pasta sauce. In my mind it doesn’t get much better than that.
But I have to admit there is a catch to this recipe. Like any recipe for a roll up, the challenge is rolling it up. It took me a few tries to perfect the technique but hopefully through my lessons learned it will be easier for you. There are a few recipes that I’ve posted so far on this blog that are my go-to favorites. I put this one right up there with one of my all time favorites, my ravioli lasagna recipe. Once you master the art of the roll up you will make this recipe often as it is so simple and yet very flavorful. So here’s my rating and lessons learned:
Rating A+ The only thing difficult about this recipe is mastering the roll up technique so that all of the ingredients are covered by the chicken breast. Once you’ve got that, the rest is a breeze. You’ve basically got your meat and vegetable all in one. Serve with a simple salad and some crusty bread and you’ll have a dinner that will become a staple in your household! I’ve learned a lot of lessons making this recipe and hopefully these will help you be successful the very first time you make it.
Lesson Learned 1: It is so important to make sure the chicken breast is the right thickness. If it’s too thick you’ll never get it to roll up, if too thin all the provolone will ooze out. I used to use one breast for each roll up but it seems like they are getting larger and larger and once you pound them out you are left with an enormous roll up. Now I take my boning knife and halve the chicken breast. From there I put them between two pieces of wax paper and pound each to a quarter of an inch thick. I found doing it this way makes for a much more reasonably sized portion and one breast now serves two.
Lesson Learned 2: Figuring out the art of the roll up took a few tries on my part before I perfected it. What I learned is if you put the cheese, meat and asparagus closer to where you begin rolling and leave a little more just plain meat toward the end the process seems to work. As you are rolling the meat and cheese tend to move a little along with you. If you leave some “wiggle room” at the end you can get all of the insides covered with the chicken breast.
Lesson Learned 3: I have yet to find a toothpick that will hold the roll up in place without breaking off. Now I use a turkey skewer (the kind you use on your holiday turkey to keep the stuffing in place) and that seems to work well. I use the skewer to secure a flap on the bottom (opposite the asparagus tips) so that cheese does not ooze out and then weave it through the chicken flesh to hold the rest of the roll up in place. Just make sure you remember to tell people that you used a skewer. With the pasta sauce it is not always easily visible and whoever is eating it could be sawing away wondering why they can’t completely cut through the roll up. If I can I remove it before serving. If I can’t remove it, I make sure the person eating it knows it’s there.
Lesson Learned 4: This is probably the biggest lesson I learned from making this – covering the asparagus tips with aluminum foil. You are baking this dish for 45-50 minutes at 350. If you don’t cover the asparagus tips they will turn to mush. If you do cover them they turn out beautifully as can be seen by the picture at the bottom of this blog.
Lesson Learned 5: Put about a quarter of a cup of sauce on the bottom of the pan before you put the roll ups in. That way the roll ups won’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Lesson Learned 5: This recipe is a version that came from a Bertoli pasta sauce add I clipped from the newspaper. The beauty of this recipe is that you can basically use any red sauce that you like and top with any cheeses that you like. The original recipe called for topping the roll ups with the sauce and shredded romano cheese. I like that and so that’s what I do, but you could use a combination of parmesan and romano and you could even top it with some mozzarella for the last ten minutes of the baking process.
All the work in this recipe is up front. Once you get the prep work done it’s just a matter of baking and eating it. Serve this with a side salad and crusty bread and you have an easy, flavorful and fun meal.
Easy Chicken Roll Ups
2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (halved)
Genoa Salami (12 thin slices)
Provolone Cheese (4-8 slices)
12 Asparagus Spears
1 Jar Tomato-Based Pasta Sauce (15 oz. or larger)
Shredded Romano Cheese (at least 1 cup)
Place your hand on the top of the chicken breast and using a boning knife start on one side and cut the breast in half (see pictures above). Place each breast between two pieces of wax paper and use a meat mallet or rolling pin and pound moving from the center out until the breast is 1/4 of an inch thick.
Beginning at the bottom of the breast, place one or two pieces of provolone cheese and three slices of salami on top of the cheese making sure to leave about an inch of just plain meat at the top of the breast (see picture above). Trim the woody bottoms off of the asparagus spears and place at the bottom of the breast. Roll the chicken breast so that the cheese, salami and asparagus (except for the tips) are all covered by the meat. Take a skewer and close off the flap a the bottom (the opposite end from the asparagus tips) and lace it through the roll up to secure it in place. Cover the asparagus tips with aluminum foil.
In a casserole dish, spread about 1/4 cup of the pasta sauce to cover the bottom. Place the roll ups in the casserole dish and cover with the remaining pasta sauce. Sprinkle with shredded romano cheese and italian seasoning.
Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes. Remove skewer from roll ups and serve.