Everyone has heard of ‘Parma ham’ in one capacity or another. Draped over fresh seasonal figs, served alongside a wider variety of cured meats and cheeses, nestled in a fresh lunchtime panino with roasted peppers and provolone or simply eaten as soon as you’ve purchased it whilst standing directly outside your local deli. Yes I most certainty do all of the above with no shame at all.
Parma ham is a salt cured hind leg of pork hailing from the region of Parma in Emilia Romagna. Parma ham is delicate, sweet and I simply adore it served wafer thin in it’s raw state: Known as ‘Proscuitto crudo’ but when cooked is seems to wake up a little, releasing even more flavour and aroma. I love to wrap cod loin and monk fish with Parma ham and well as fresh figs and I also make a delicious ricotta tart topped with Parma ham, but this recipe is a favourite around our family table, especially with my second son Santino.
Parma ham keeps the chicken breast juicy and moist whilst forming a crispy outer topping. So incredibly good. Also a top tip would be to prepare more of the breasts and freeze them in individual portions. This makes for a quick and speedy dinner when time is limited.
I serve these breasts with Parmesan infused polenta and a fresh leaf salad, but choose whatever sides you prefer. Just remember the key is to not overcook the chicken and when the juices run clear, plate up.
Parma ham wrapped chicken breasts
4 chicken breasts
Salt and pepper to season
150g fresh pesto
2 mozzarella balls 125g each (drained, retain the water to make pasta or bread)
70g sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
Dried oregano to sprinkle
10 basil leaves
8 slices Parma Ham
- Take the chicken breast and remove any sinew.
- Place one hand on top of the breast and take a sharp knife and slice the breast , enveloping it out. Be sure to not cut all the way through.
- Repeat with all of the breasts. Open each breast out and season with salt and pepper.
- Spread a heaped tsp amount of the pesto over each chicken breast.
- Slice the mozzarella balls and lay slices across the breast.
- Scatter over ruby red pieces of sun-dried tomato along with a sprinkle of dried oregano.
- Close the chicken breast up by folding it in half.
- Place two basil leaves on the top of each breast, then wrap 2 slices of Parma ham around each breast.
- Place in a baking dish and drizzle over a little Extra virgin olive oil and bake for around 25 minutes until tender and cooked through.
- Serve with a seasonal salad or seasoned polenta.
I like to add some vine tomatoes to the bake dish too as they burst and release their intense sweetness. Plate up the chicken and drizzle over the juices from the baking dish.