Chicken Roulade with Spinach and Prosciutto
Chicken Roulade sounds fancy … and maybe a bit intimidating. It’s kind of like the first time you tried to roll up a sleeping bag: once you figure out a few tricks, the result is worth the effort!
What is a Roulade?
If you’ve ever had a Swiss cake roll (a.k.a. Ho-Ho) or a ham/pickle/cream cheese roll-up (a.k.a. Midwest Sushi), you’ve had a roulade. How about a cinnamon roll? A roulade is simply a dish made and served in the shape of a spiral. The spiral is created when a thin base has been made from meat, bread, or cake, layered or spread with a filling, and rolled. The spiral, of course, makes it beautiful. But what I think is truly the secret of a roulade’s success is the distribution of flavors throughout the dish!
The focus of this blog will be chicken but many of these tips will apply to any roulade you make!
Perfecting the Chicken
If all boneless chicken breasts were exactly the same, writing this recipe would be SO much easier. But they aren’t and it would be a great disservice to you if I wrote a recipe that didn’t account for that. As you can probably see in the recipe photos, the chicken breasts in these pictures were some of the largest I’ve ever bought. I didn’t do it intentionally. That is what was available at the meat counter on my shopping day. I have done my best to explain the process of preparing the cutlets so that you will have success with what you bring home from the grocery store.
One thing boneless chicken breasts do have in common is an uneven shape. Specifically, they are thicker on one side than the other. Since we want an evenly thin cutlet, partially filleting the thickest part will make the process much easier. The pictures in the recipe will help guide you through this process.
Customize Your Chicken Roulade
Think about your favorite chicken dishes. Do you like those chicken sandwiches with spinach-artichoke spread? What about Chicken Cordon Bleu? Does a spicy Buffalo chicken sandwich make your mouth water? With a little creativity, all of these can be made into a roulade.
Spinach-Artichoke Chicken Roulade: One way to accomplish this would be to add chopped, well-drained artichokes to the layers and use shredded Monterey Jack cheese instead of the mozzarella. Or, if you have the spinach-artichoke dip, simply spread of layer of that on the cutlet before adding more spinach and lemon.
Chicken Cordon Bleu Roulade: Replace the prosciutto in the recipe with thinly sliced ham and the mozzarella with Swiss cheese. Add some thyme and skip the basil and crushed red pepper.
Spicy Buffalo Chicken Roulade: Mix your favorite spicy wing sauce with some mayonnaise or Ranch dressing and spread a light layer over the cutlet before adding the spinach. Consider replacing the basil with cilantro and add some of the tender celery leaves. Replace the mozzarella with Monterey Jack cheese and omit the Parmesan. Take it one step further and use lime zest instead of lemon.
Thinly sliced and sautéed mushrooms, peppers and onions are always great options. If you like nuts in your chicken salad, consider replacing half of the bread crumbs with finely chopped almonds or pecans. Be careful when browning the roulades as the nuts will likely brown faster and darker than the bread crumbs alone.
Spinach Tip: Frozen spinach will work just fine in this recipe. Thaw it completely and remove as much of the water as possible.
Other Greens: The neutral flavor of spinach makes it an easy choice for most adaptations of this recipe. Other greens can be substituted but choose ones that typically hold up well to heat. Arugula, kale, and mustard greens are all good choices. Pesto would also be a wonderful option if fresh greens are not available.
I could go on and on … and on …
We haven’t even talked about beef roulades! Or pork. Or turkey … TURKEY! Thanksgiving might look a little different with a turkey roulade stuffed with sage leaves, shaved Brussels sprouts, cranberry chutney and goat cheese … YUM!
Whether you’re craving the sweetness of a chocolate Swiss cake roll or the salty tang of a ham and pickle roll-up right now, there is a roulade for you! Might I interest you in a breakfast roulade?
Like maybe a Heuvos Ranchero Roulade?
Chicken Roulade with Spinach and Prosciutto
- 2 whole boneless chicken breasts cut into 4 halves
- Black Pepper
- garlic powder
- crushed red pepper
- 1 Lemon zested and quartered
- 3 ounces sliced prosciutto
- 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 3 ounces fresh baby spinach 1/2 of a 6 oz bag
- Fresh Basil Leaves optional
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon water
- 3/4 cup bread crumbs
- 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3-4 tablespoons butter
Preparing the Chicken Cutlets
- Lay each half chicken breast on top of a cutting board, "flat" side down (see photo). Cut horizontally through the thickest part of the breast without separating completely.
- Fold the top portion over (see photo).
- Place sheets of plastic wrap under and over the chicken and pound with a meat tenderizer (or rolling pin), starting in the middle and working outward, until the chicken breast is approximately 1/2 inch thick. Repeat with each of remaining 3 breast halves.
- Depending on the size of the cutlets, each may be cut in half. Ideally, each cutlet should be about 5-6 inches wide and 6-7" long. The cutlets are unlikely to be equally sized.
Layering the Roulades
- Sprinkle each cutlet with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, and garlic powder. Divide lemon zest among cutlets.
- Place a layer of prosciutto on each cutlet.
- Divide the Parmesan and mozzarella between the cutlets.
- Divide the spinach and basil (optional) between the cutlets.
Rolling and Dredging the Roulades
- Roll up each cutlet lengthwise, tucking the toppings in as the roll progresses. Secure the roll with two or three toothpicks if necessary.
- Line up three pans/dishes and put the flour in one, the eggs (whisked with the water) in another, and the bread crumbs in another. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper in the pan of flour and the pan of bread crumbs. Stir to distribute the seasonings in each pan.
- Roll each roulade in the flour, then the egg and then the bread crumbs. Set aside.
Browning and Baking the Roulades
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place a large, oven-safe skillet over medium heat and add 3 tablespoons olive oil and 3 tablespoons of butter. When butter has melted and begins to brown, add cutlets (light sizzling should occur), making sure not to crowd the pan. (If the cutlets won't all fit in the pan, see note below for more instructions.)
- Brown for 2-3 minutes on each side, increasing or reducing heat to brown evenly.
- Add lemon quarters to the skillet and place skillet in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked. Slice through the center of one cutlet to ensure the chicken is cooked properly and no pinkness remains.
- Remove all toothpicks and serve. Risotto or roasted potatoes make an excellent side dish.
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