On The Mind of a Chef season 1, Chef David Chang did an updated version of a “hot brown” that involved meat glue and sous vide cooking. I find modernist cooking techniques and the chemistry behind cooking to be fascinating, and I had previously made a reimagined buffalo chicken wing using similar techniques, so it got my creative juices flowing. I remembered that I had some meat glue in the freezer!!
For years, I have periodically seen the recipe for Chicken saltimbocca in my old standby Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. This was my first cookbook and I still find it relevant for those dishes my mother used to make.
Chicken (I used one breast and four thighs cut in pieces)
Tomatoes (chopped and seeded)
Smokey Gouda cheese
Sprinkle the chicken pieces with meat glue and pound the chicken between sheets of film wrap until it is about 1/4 “ or less in thickness and in a nice rectangular shape. You can use your cutting board to help with the ratio of height to width.
Remove the top layer of film and sprinkle the chicken with a little more meat glue. Layer the chicken with the prosciutto, smokey Gouda, and chopped tomatoes. Saltimbocca is traditionally seasoned with sage, but I did not have any in the pantry and decided to use Thyme instead.
Roll the layered chicken mixture up like a jelly roll using the film to help make the roll tight. Place the roll in a vacuum seal bag and seal.
Poach in a water bath at 160 F for about an hour.
Remove the cooked chicken roll from the water bath and let cool slightly. Reserve the liquid from the cooking.
Dry the roll and brown on all sides in butter, then put aside to rest.
Make a lemony sauce using chicken broth, lemon juice, pan drippings and corn starch. Slick the roll and drizzle the lemon sauce over the slices.
The side in the photo is riced cauliflower with tomato and spices. It was a microwave product that I was giving a try. No bueno.
- MORE RESEARCH ON MEAT GLUE! I’ve used it on a limited basis with various degrees of results. The chemistry is that meat glue is an enzyme of the transaminase class that cross-links the protein glutamic acid. This binds the meat pieces together chemically. I would say that mine was OK, but not as thin as I would like, some pieces did not bond completely and the roll was more marbled than I would have liked. A little of the cheese leaked out because I didn’t have a good seal on the ends of the roll.
- LESS PROSCIUTTO. I had never cooked with prosciutto, so I used about twice as much as I should have (about 3-4 oz). One thin layer would have been sufficient.
- DIFFERENT CHEESE. Traditional saltimbocca is made with Gruyere or Swiss cheese. The smokey Gouda combined with the prosciutto added too much smoke to the party and overwhelmed the taste of the chicken and thyme. The Gouda was also a little grainy , so the heat stability may not have been there.
I would give this dish a “C”, but I think it has potential. This technique could also be used for Chicken Kiev or Chicken Cordon Bleu.