Italian-style Chicken Rollatini with Mushroom, Chestnut, and Spinach Stuffing

Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser Yield:  6 rollatini
Prep Time:  25 minutes Cook Time:  1 hour

Italian-style Chicken Rollatini with Mushroom, Chestnut, and Spinach Stuffing

This dish looks fancy and tastes great. It is perfect for a holiday, and since making the components is easy to do in advance, it’s not as complicated as it seems—but your family and friends will never know! Make the stuffings ahead of time and refrigerate them, separately, covered, for up to 3 days, and then it’s quick work to fill, roll, and fry just before serving. If you do make all the components of this dish at once, allow time for the stuffings to cool before you fill and roll the chicken.

Ingredients

Mushroom Stuffing

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ medium onion, peeled and finely diced

1 teaspoon salt

2 stalks celery, trimmed and finely diced

1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced

3 cloves garlic, grated

½ pound mushrooms, finely diced, cremini strongly preferred (about 1½ cups)

12 large (or 15 medium/small) fresh sage leaves

¼ cup dry red wine

Zest and juice of 2 lemons

 

Spinach and Herb Stuffing

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large shallots, peeled and finely diced

7 ounces fresh baby spinach or Swiss chard, packed, stems and spines removed (about 6 cups, see Kitchen Tip)

¼ cup red wine

3 cloves garlic, grated

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

 

Chestnut Stuffing

10.4 ounces packaged cooked chestnuts, roughly diced

¼ cup low-sodium chicken stock

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup matzo meal or plain bread crumbs

 

Chicken Rollatini

4 cups olive oil

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 2 pounds) pounded to ½-inch thickness

1 cup chestnut flour

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup matzo meal or bread crumbs (Italian-blend or plain), divided

½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

 

Instructions

  1. Make the mushroom filling: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a saucepan set over high heat until it shimmers. Add the onions and 1 teaspoon of the salt and stir gently. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the onions are translucent and browned at the edges. Add the celery and carrots, stir well, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer, until the celery has begun to soften. Add the grated garlic and the mushrooms and stir well. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes, or until the mushrooms have cooked through completely, released their liquid and it has almost evaporated. Add the red wine and lemon juice and zest, stir, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the wine has been absorbed. Remove from the heat, add the sage, stir well, and set aside. (You can transfer the filling to a bowl and wash the pan to reuse if you wish.)
  2. Make the spinach filling: Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a saucepan set over high heat, until it shimmers. Add the shallots and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes, until translucent. Add the spinach, working in batches as necessary to fit it into the pan without crowding, and mix gently to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes, until the spinach has cooked down and reduced in volume considerably, and the liquid in the pan is all but gone. Add the red wine,  garlic, and nutmeg, stir, and cook for about 2 minutes, until the wine has been absorbed a bit and reduces in volume. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the chestnuts, stock, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ cup of the matzo meal and pulse until has the consistency of a paste. Scoop out into a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet and set aside. Place a piece of parchment paper on a cutting board. Place 1 chicken breast on the paper, shiny, smooth side down. Place about 2 tablespoons of the chestnut filling on the chicken and spread it over the breast. Place 1 tablespoon of the spinach filling over the chestnut filling, evening it out gently over the breast, and then 2 tablespoons of the mushroom filling, evening it out gently, too. Carefully roll up the chicken, jellyroll–style, using the edges of the paper to assist. Place the roll, seam-side down, on the prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Repeat with the remaining chicken breasts and fillings. (If the chicken breasts are smaller, you can use a little less for each layer.)
  5. Pour 4 cups olive oil into a skillet and affix a kitchen thermometer to it (or use an instant-read thermometer; see Kitchen Tip). Heat over high heat until the oil reaches 375°F.
  6. Pour the chestnut flour into a shallow bowl. Beat the eggs lightly in another shallow bowl. Pour the matzo meal into a third bowl and position them side by side near the stove top. Prepare a sheet of parchment nearby. Season the chestnut flour and matzo meal with salt and pepper and stir each to incorporate. Dip a chicken roll into the chestnut flour, then into the egg, and gently roll in the breadcrumbs. Pat into a tidy roll. If it comes apart, you can secure it with a toothpick (but remember to take it out before serving!). Place on a clean sheet of parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining the chicken rolls.
  7. Place a cooling rack on a sheet pan and set it near the stove. Gently slide 1 or 2 chicken rolls into the hot oil, and spoon a little oil over the tops. (You can fry 2 in a pan at a time if they fit, but don’t crowd the pan, as the oil temperature will go down and it will make the chicken greasy.) Fry for about 6 minutes on one side, until until the crust is deep golden brown. With 2 spoons or fish spatulas, gently turn the chicken and continue to fry while basting with oil for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the roll reads 145° F. Skim the brown residue from around the side of the pan with a spoon, as necessary. Transfer to the prepared cooling rack and repeat with the remaining chicken rolls. When all of the rolls are done, sprinkle with remaining teaspoon of salt and serve immediately.

Kitchen Tips

  1. An easy way to remove the spines from green leafy vegetables is told fold the leaf in half down the spine (as if you were closing a book). Place the folded leaf on a work surface and, with a sharp knife, slice as close to the spine as you can and discard. Prepare the leaves as directed in the recipe.
  2. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can heat the oil over medium heat and carefully drop in a small piece (about an inch square) of bread. If it turns brown all over and floats to the surface in 60 seconds, the oil is about 350°F to 365°. If it browns sooner, the temp is higher: 20 seconds and it’s somewhere between 382°F and 390°F; 40 seconds and it’s between 365°F and 382°F.

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