Chicken Saltimbocca with Caponata

Note:   This post is the next edition chronicling our cooking class over Modern Italian Cuisine with Chef Marcus of Tavolo.

Traditionally, Chef Marcus explained that caponota is a stew of vegetables, an Italian Ratatouille, if you will.  His take on this  traditional sauce required all the vegetables to be cooked separately using different techniques.

A modern take from Chef Marcus Vause of Tavolo

1 t. olive oil
salt and pepper
1 sm. eggplant (He used Indian eggplant, a small round variety.)
1 c. pearl onions, peeled
1 c. Roma tomatoes, halved and dried in a 200 degree oven for 4 hours
2 ribs celery, poached in chicken stock for 20 minutes
1/2 c. golden raisins, hydrated in white wine and drained
1/4 c. toasted pine nuts
2 c. red wine vinegar
1/2 c. sugar
2 T. black peppercorns
1 T. coriander seed

Toss eggplant and pearl onions with oil and pinch of salt and pepper.   Spread eggplant and onions on a sheet pan and roast for 25 minutes at 400 degrees.   Set aside.   Gently reheat the dried tomatoes, celery, and raisins on same sheet pan for 5 minutes.

To make gastrique, place red wine vinegar, sugar, black peppercorns, and coriander seeds in a small sauce pan and reduce over high heat until 1/4 c. of liquid remains.   Strain and discard solids.

Combine heated vegetables and vinegar sauce in a bowl and toss to mix thoroughly.   Or, as Chef Marcus presented it to us, smear a bit of the gastrique on the plate and arrange vegetables across sauce.   

(I also found some roasted red pepper slivers in my caponata as well but they are not listed in this recipe.   I think they were a great addition.)

Garnish with pine nuts.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Unfortunately, I do not have a recipe for the saltimbocca.   I wish I did and I wish a had an immersion circulator.   Chef Marcus chose to create a truly modern way to make saltimbocca.    (For a traditional version, click here.)    I will do my best to describe the dish that was served to us along with the caponata.

Chef Marcus pureed chicken breasts and prosciutto to create a mousse.   That was the first layer.    He then placed thigh meat on top for the second layer.   Then, he “reattached” the chicken skin to the top for the final layer.    All of this was vacuum sealed and sous vide at 141 degrees for 5 hours.


Chicken Saltimbocca with Caponata

He then removed it from the bag and seared it, skin side down, in a super hot pan.    He sliced this tureen-like loaf and served it.   I can’t describe this tender and flavorful chicken.   It was tender, juicy, crispy…..


Slicing the sous vide saltimbocca.

The skin was crispy delicious and the hint of saltiness and smokiness from the prosciutto was classic.      Saltimbocca can be literally translates as “hop in the mouth.”   That is a perfect description of this dish.

I am against any more kitchen gadgets in my house but I now covet an immersion circulator.    Chef Marcus said that someday, everyone will have one.   He compared the sous vide process to moving from cooking over an open flame to electric or gas ovens.   Of course, everyone has an oven in his/her house.   It is just a matter of time before we will all have a Polyscience Sous Vide Professional Immersion Circulator in our homes.


On my Christmas list (from W-S). Maybe if I start being good now, Santa will notice.  (Image from Williams-Sonoma.)

If all I could do with a device like this was make Chef’s version of saltimbocca, I might still want one.   This meal was that memorable.   I certainly hope this gets on the permanent menu at Tavolo.

Stay tuned for dessert:   Orange Blossom Pana Cotta with Campari Foam.

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