Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Prosciutto & Gouda Wrapped Chicken, Balsamic & Brown Butter Gnocchi, and Warm Spinach Salad

Cooking dinner is my favorite part of the day. After a day filled with commuting, working, exercising, errands, etc., there is nothing more relaxing and fun than to go into the kitchen, pour a big glass of red wine, and make a fabulous dinner for myself and my fiance Kevin. I think one of my favorite things about cooking is that I get to decide what I want to eat, and can whip up whatever I'm hungry for. As nice as it is not have someone else cook for me, I love to be able to control what I'm eating and how it's made. It's a great feeling!

Last night I was hungry for a real heart-warming meal with tons of different flavors and textures. Prosciutto and Gouda Wrapped Chicken was perfect- tender chicken topped with smokey, creamy Gouda cheese and wrapped in sweet and salty prosciutto. Heaven! Alongside I served gnocchi in a warm brown butter and balsamic vinegar sauce, and the sweetness from the balsamic was perfectly balanced by the mellow and rich brown butter. I had a big bunch of spinach I wanted to use, and there is no better way to get extra spinach on a plate than to cook it down. I added lots of onions, garlic and bacon, and to finish the dressing I used sugar and, yes, more balsamic vinegar. This meal was so fun to make! And eating wasn't too bad either! :)

Prosciutto and Gouda Wrapped Chicken with Balsamic Butter Gnocchi and a Warm Spinach Salad
Smokey cheese and salty prosciutto wrapped around sweet and succulent chicken. 
Serves 2

2 chicken breasts, placed in storage bag and pounded with meat mallet until even in thickness
2 slices prosciutto
2 slices Gouda cheese
1 tsp. rosemary
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt & pepper

1 package gnocchi
3 T. butter
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. chopped parsley
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt & pepper

2 slices bacon, chopped
1/4 sweet onion or shallot, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. sugar
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 bunch spinach, 10 oz.
Kosher salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Coat chicken in balsamic vinegar, then olive oil. Season chicken with rosemary, salt and pepper and let stand 10 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for gnocchi. Salt water and drop gnocchi in water. Cook 3 minutes or until gnocchis float to top of water, and are al dente.

Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken breasts to the pan and cook for 4 minutes per side, until browned on the outside but not fully cooked through. The balsamic vinegar will produce a deep brown, sweet finish on the chicken as it cooks. Remove the chicken from the skillet into an oven-safe dish. Top each with a slice of Gouda cheese and wrap with prosciutto. Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes until chicken is cooked through and cheese is beginning to melt.

When the chicken is 2 or 3 minutes away from done, heat a second skillet over medium low to medium heat. To the second skillet, add butter to the pan and let it begin to brown. 

When the butter for the gnocchi has browned, add cooked gnocchi to the pan and turn in butter to heat through. Add balsamic vinegar to the ravioli and cook a minute or 2 longer to reduce the vinegar and glaze the gnocchi. The vinegar will become thick and syrup like. Add cheese, parsley, salt and pepper to the pasta and remove the pan from the heat, covering to keep warm.  

Meanwhile, in a separate skillet over medium high heat and add the bacon and brown for about 2 or 3 minutes, then transfer to paper towels to drain and return pan to heat, reducing heat to medium. Add oil, garlic and onions to the pan and saute 2 minutes. 

To the sauteed onions and garlic for the spinach salad, add sugar and cook 1 minute. Add vinegar to the pan, scraping up pan drippings. Add spinach to the dressing and turn to wilt and coat it evenly in sweet vinaigrette. Add bacon to the salad. 

Serve chicken along side gnocchi and spinach salad, all on the same dinner plate.

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