Chicken Saltimboccollards with Orzo

Saltimbocca (Italian for jumps in the mouth) is traditionally made of veal with prosciutto and sage. It sometimes includes capers as well. Fusing together this traditional Italian dish with my Southern heritage, I created a dish I jokingly call Saltimboccollards. For the saltimboccollards, I replace the veal with chicken and add in a healthy portion of Georgia Collard Greens. Thankfully, I still have collards growing in my garden.

Collards growing in the garden
Collards in the garden

For the Chicken Saltimboccollards, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 12 ounces of chicken cutlets (three cutlets, about four ounces each)
  • 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil
  • 10 to 12 sage leaves
  • 1 bunch of collards, remove the rib and slice the collard leaves into 1/2 in ribbons
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 slices of pancetta (about 1 to 1 1/2 ounce total)
  • 1 Tablespoon Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 lemon, cut into slices
  • Salt and pepper

Pound the chicken cutlets with a meat mallet until evenly thin, about 1/4 inch in thickness. Sprinkle the cutlets with salt and pepper and set aside.

Chicken cutlets, pounded to about 1/4 inch thick
Pound the chicken cutlets to an even thickness

Heat one teaspoon of grapeseed oil in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Gently add the sage leaves and fry until just crispy.

Sage leaves in a pan
Lightly frying sage leaves and infusing the oil

Set the sage leaves aside. Reduce the heat to medium and use the sage-infused oil left in the pan to saute the collards and garlic together until the collards are wilted and soft, about 5 minutes. Remove the sauteed collards and garlic from the heat.

Collars and garlic sauteed in sage infused oil
Collars and garlic sauteed in sage infused oil

Place a slice of pancetta on each chicken cutlet. Then place a small heap of the sauteed garlic and collards on the slices of pancetta. Place two fresh sage leaves (not the fried leaves) on each heap of garlic and collards. Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese on each cutlet.

Steps to prepare the chicken cutlets
Preparing the cutlets

Carefully roll the chicken cutlets, starting with the narrow end, like a jellyroll and secure the rolled cutlets with a toothpick. Heat the other teaspoon of grapeseed oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat and cook the rolled chicken cutlets for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until just golden brown. In another pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil and add slices of lemon. Carefully drop the rolled chicken cutlets into the boiling liquid. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the chicken for 10 minutes, turning occasionally.

Chicken simmering in broth
Chicken simmering in broth

Remove the rolled chicken cutlets and let rest for about 5 minutes.

Chicken Saltimboca Resting
Chicken Saltimboccollards Resting

Once the chicken has cooled slightly, cut the chicken saltimboccollards int thi

Rounds of Chicken Saltimboccollards
Chicken Saltimboccollards

To go with the chicken saltimboccollards, I made a quick orzo dish. I heated four rolled anchovy fillets with capers in olive oil in a pan over medium heat, stirring until they dissolved in their own oil. I sauteed an assortment of vegetables that I had in the refrigerator (which happened to include about a half cup each of green beans, sorrel, sweet peppers, and zucchini) with the anchovy fillets. I cooked orzo according to the directions on the packaging. I then mixed together the orzo, a 28 ounces of diced San Marzano tomatoes, and the sauteed vegetables.

Making orzo with vegetables
Making orzo with vegetables

I removed the toothpicks from the chicken saltimbocollars and plated them together with the orzo. I then topped each serving with the fried sage leaves, which I think add great flavor and an enjoyable texture to the orzo when it is crushed up with a fork and mixed into the orzo.

Chicken Saltimboccollards with Orzo
Chicken Saltimboccollards with Orzo
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Chicken Tortilla Soup

Back in college, several years before we got married, there were a couple of brief periods where Jill and I stopped dating and took “breaks.” During one of these breaks, I started spending more time with one of Jill’s roommates, who swore to me that her mother made the best chicken tortilla soup in the world. Though I am not an overly competitive person,  I do like a good culinary challenge here and there. So, I decided to create the best  chicken tortilla soup recipe. Ever.

I researched recipes, experimented with flavor combinations, and tasted every bowl of chicken tortilla soup I could find. I ordered chicken tortilla soup from McAlister’s Deli, Panera, Atlanta Bread Company, and anywhere else I could find it. I bought every brand of canned chicken tortilla soup I could find.

Ultimately, I came up with this recipe. I will occasionally make slight variations, such as using fresh corn versus frozen corn or using lemon juice instead of lime juice, but I always follow this general recipe.

Ingredients for Chicken Tortilla Soup
Ingredients for Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery and carrots
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 cans Ro-tel tomatoes
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can ranch style beans
  • 1-2 cans tomato sauce (depending upon desired thickness)
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 7 cups chicken stock
  • 1 can hominy
  • 1 small bag frozen corn
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1 lime, juiced

Serve with:

  • sour cream
  • tortilla chips
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • fresh cilantro, chopped
  • avocado, diced

Directions:

In a large stock pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add chicken and cook until fork tender and fully cooked, about 15 minutes. Remove chicken and shred chicken using two forks. You could also roughly chop the chicken using a knife, if you preferred.

Shredded Chicken
Shredded Chicken

While the chicken is cooking, in another large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, celery, red bell pepper, and carrots and saute until tender. Add chili powder and cumin. Stir the spices and vegetables until fragrant. Add the Ro-tel tomatoes, cream of chicken soup, ranch style beans, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. Stir until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Onions, Celery, Garlic, Carrots, and Red Bell Pepper
Onions, Celery, Garlic, Carrots, and Red Bell Pepper

Add the chicken stock, hominy, cooked chicken, and frozen corn. Add salt, pepper, and tabasco sauce, to taste.

Fresh corn
When in season, I use fresh corn instead of frozen

Stir in the lime juice and mix well. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once the soup reaches a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer at least one hour.

Sliced lemon
A lemon can substitute for the lime

To serve, crush tortilla chips in the bottom of a bowl, pour the soup over the chips, and serve topped with shredded cheese, sour cream, and cilantro. You could also top with avocado, if it is in season.

The sour cream is very important.  During our break, I made chicken tortilla soup with Jill’s roommate and sent some back for Jill too (I must have known we would get back together). Jill’s roommate gave the soup to her, but didn’t tell her to add the sour cream. Maybe it was an accident or maybe it was intentional (we’ll never know), but the spiciness was definitely overwhelming.

Cilantro
I love the taste of fresh cilantro in my soup

Jill’s roommate would never admit that my soup was better, but I could tell she thought so. After she learned to add sour cream and cheese to the soup, this recipe quickly became one of Jill’s favorites also. The hominy is actually our favorite part of the soup. Over time this has become my signature dish, requested often by friends and family.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
A hearty bowl of Chicken Tortilla Soup