Melt-in-your-mouth salsa verde stuffed chicken thighs, wrapped in crispy pancetta
Make these Sicilian chicken skewers wrapped in pancetta.
They are a true crowd-pleaser… and simple.
PREP TIME: 10 mins
COOKING TIME: 40 mins
IDEAL FOR: family, crowd-pleaser
WINE PAIRING TIP: Suzie (Michael Sutton’s Cellar) paired this amazing chicken dish with two different chardonnay’s.
On this occasion, I was on a budget so went for the Chardonnay Dom du Tariquet (£8.50) which was floral & buttery with loads of fruit.
If you fancy a chardonnay with more complex flavours & more rounded, then the Château Prety Coteaux Bourguignons was recommended, with rich aromas of apples and citrus notes.
Dreaming of Sicily
Sicily. That’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit.
(And was meant to until C-19 reared its ugly-global-pandemic-non-head).
But dreaming of shimmering crystal-clear waters of the Med.
Along with, secret coves, cliff-top villages, the smoking volcano of Mt Etna, ancient architecture…
And of course, the food.
Sitting in a taverna, watching the sun go down after a day of exploring with a cold glass of wine.
And incredible fresh food, made the Sicilian way.
Yes, please… I’ll keep dreaming.
But in the meantime, I decided to try a Jamie Oliver take on chicken skewers.
Not quite Sicily… but Sicilian chicken skewers
Now, the decision to make this dish was the polar opposite of what I’ve just described.
Sun, sea, heat… travel!
Instead, we were in the middle of the ‘Beast-from-the-East-2’
The temperature had dropped down to 1°C with a 50 mile-an-hour wind to drop us further into Baltic temperatures.
So, fire blazing, blankets wrapped around us, cosy socks on… and a bit of Friday night with Jamie.
That’s when he did this Sicilian Chicken skewers.
What’s lovely about it, is the ham wrapped around the chicken.
And that you place them over the potatoes so the fat drips down onto them.
And I wouldn’t skip that step so try and get a dish that you can put your sliced tatties in and have your skewers over top.
I’ve had to do desktop research on this, as mentioned, I haven’t made it there yet.
But Sicilian cuisine is a little more unique than the rest of Italy.
Apparently, they use a lot more raisins and saffron in their most famous dishes – I’ll look out for that whenever I get there.
And, their cooking techniques are different from the mainlanders.
As with all Italian cooking, they are all about freshness and seasonality of the ingredients.
Something, I’m learning more and more about.
Foods like tomatoes, anchovies, capers, olives etc, all evoke Italy and Sicily.
Some Sicilian specialities include:
Arancini (or arancina)
Little rice balls prepared with ragù, butter or pistacchio.
Pasta alla norma
Apparently, the Sicilian is the equivalent of fish and chips to a British person.
It’s pasta served with tomatoes, aubergines, salted ricotta and basil.
Pane e Panelle
Fried street food – deep fried fritters made from chickpea flour and sometimes stuffed into a bread roll.
A traditional meat roll typically made from beef or veal, and stuffed with bread, cheese, hard-boiled whole eggs and ham
Pasta alla Normais
Probably one of Sicily’s most famous pasta dishes.
It’s short pasta with eggplant in a light tomato sauce, served with ricotta salata (hard, grated ricotta).
We can’t leave out cannoli!
I heard about it after binging The Soprano’s years ago.
‘Tony Soprano’ would always ask for one of his thuggish mafioso to ‘go get some cannoli’s‘. They sounded amazing!
And are a Sicilian pastry with ricotta inside – looks a bit like a brandy snap but tastes nothing like it.
An Italian classic but was actually born in Sicily.
Sicilian chicken skewers – a crowd-pleaser
Back to the recipe.
This is such a simple dish and looks impressive when you present it to the table.
It always has an element of showmanship.
Once large dish in the middle of the table.
Then you slice between the skewers cutting through the rolled chicken.
And reveal the beautiful layers inside.
Your sliced potatoes and tomatoes are perfectly cooked having absorbed all the juices from the pancetta.
It’s heaven on a plate.
And you don’t need to travel all the way to Sicily.
(although that does remain on my wishlist).
So, enjoy a taste of Italy on a cold winters day.
But I must admit.
I can’t wait to try this in spring and summer this year once we can all be outside with friends and family again.
Do you have a favourite Italian dish? Leave a comment.
Sicilian Chicken Skewers
- 60 g blanched almonds
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp baby capers in brine
- 6 anchovy fillets in oil
- 1 bunch of flat leaf parsley
- 10 skinless, boneless free-range chicken thighs
- 10 slices of higher-welfare prosciutto *quality ham will make this taste epic
- 10 slices of higher-welfare pancetta *quality ham will make this taste epic, the sliced pancetta has the gorgeous flavoursome fat
- 1.2 kg potatoes, sliced approx 1 cm
- 300 g ripe cherry tomatoes
- olive oil
- 1 bunch of fresh thyme
- extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF.
- In a pestle and mortar (or you can use a food processor), put the almonds in and crush into rough crumbs.Add the (peeled) garlic, balsamic, capers, anchovies and a splash of their oil, then tear in the top leafy half of the parsley and bash until fairly fine.
- On a kitchen board, open the (skinless) chicken thighs out, smooth side down, and pound with a rolling pin until flattened and tenderized.Divide the stuffing between them and roll up, wrapping each thigh in a slice of prosciutto, then a slice of fatty, pancetta. Push two skewers through 5 thighs, repeat for the other thighs.
- Peel the potatoes and slice 1cm thick, then parboil in a large pan of boiling salted water for 6 mins or so. Prick each tomato with the tip of a sharp knife and add to the pan for the last 40 seconds, then drain it all. This is so you can easily take the skins off.When they are cool enough to touch, pinch the skins off.Layer the potatoes in a large ovenproof pan or baking dish, seasoning with sea salt and black pepper, and drizzling lightly with olive oil, then scatter over the tomatoes. Take your chicken skewers and place on top so that all the juices from the hams drip down over the potatoes as they cook.
- Roast for 30 mins, then dip the bunch of thyme in olive oil and use as a brush to baste the chicken and potatoes with the pan juices. Sprinkle the thyme sprigs over the dish and return to the oven for a final 10 mins.
- To serve, slice between the skewers, then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.P.S If you like your potatoes super-crisp, pop them back into the oven for an extra 10 mins at the end.