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Baked Chicken Cartocci - Cartoccini di Pollo al Forno

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There's something magical about the cartoccio technique, filling packets with food, baking them, then serving them still closed, and watching your guests' expressions as they pull back the wrappers to savor the aromas that burst forth. Pasta is especially popular (and ideal for a romantic occasion), but these cartocci made with chicken breast will be very nice too.
To serve 6:

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 whole chicken breasts
  • 6 sheets aluminum foil
  • 2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
  • Several twists of freshly ground pepper
  • The leaves of a couple of sprigs of fresh marjoram and thyme (about 1/4 cup packed leaves)
  • 1 or two fresh hot peppers, seeded and ribbed
  • A 6 ounce (150 g) piece of Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano, shredded
  • 8 ounces (200 g) mushrooms, sliced
  • Unsalted butter

Preparation:

Begin by cutting the chicken breasts in half (discard the breastbone cartilage and the wishbones) and pounding them lightly to flatten them somewhat. Mince the herbs and hot pepper, combine them with the salt and pepper, and rub the meat with the mixture.

Preheat your oven to 420 F (210 C).

Lay the slices on the pieces of foil, sprinkle them with the shredded cheese, and lay the sliced mushrooms on top of them. Dot the meat with the butter, close the foil packets, leaving a small whole for steam to escape, and bake the packets for about a half hour.

Serve at once, with a tossed salad or the vegetable you most prefer, and a fairly full bodied white wine, for example a Fiano di Avellino.

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