Grilled Chicken Involtini Messinese


Involtini are basically roll-ups or roulades that are made of any type of thinly-sliced meat, poultry, or fish; and they can also be made with vegetables such as eggplant or zucchini.  Sicilians also refer to them as spiedini or spitini (in the Sicilian lingo) when these meat rolls are grilled on a skewer.  The word spiedo means skewer.  Spiedini is the Italian version of a kebab, consisting of small pieces of skewered meats, poultry, seafood, vegetables, or even fruit.  So, if you choose to grill these succulent little bundles, oozing with melted cheese, you can refer to them as either involtini or spiedini.  If you opt to bake them – then they are strictly called involtini.

The method of preparation of this dish is Messinese (Messina) style – stuffed with ham and cheese and coated with seasoned bread crumbs.  They require little prep time and even less cooking time.  I deviated a little from the usual way of preparing these involtini, in which they are first brushed with olive oil and then coated in dry bread crumbs.  I prefer to add the oil to the bread crumb mixture because I feel they brown more evenly.

You can also make a variation of this recipe by substituting the chicken breast with beef, veal, pork, or swordfish.

(Involtini di Pollo alla Messinese)

Difficulty Rating: Easy
Makes 4 servings.

3/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon finely minced garlic (1 small clove)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 thin-sliced skinless, boneless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4-inch thickness
8 slices prosciutto
4 slices provolone cheese, cut in halves

Special Equipment Needed:  2 skewers

MAKE THE SEASONED BREAD CRUMBS:  Combine the bread crumbs, olive oil, cheese, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and set aside.

PREPARE THE INVOLTINI:  Heat grill to medium heat.

Lay the chicken pieces on a flat surface, place a slice of prosciutto and a piece of cheese on top.  It may be necessary to trim the prosciutto and cheese so that it doesn’t overhang.

Beginning at the smallest end, roll the breast up and place onto a skewer.  Place 4 involtini on each skewer.

Firmly press the breadcrumb mixture on the top, bottom, and sides of the chicken pieces.

GRILL THE INVOLTINI:  Grill approximately 7 minutes on each side, until an instant read thermometer inserted into the middle of the involtini reads 160 degrees F.  Let rest for 5 minutes.

BAKING OPTION:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Prepare the involtini as directed. Instead of using skewers, secure each involtini with a wooden toothpick and place in a baking dish.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until an instant read thermometer inserted into the middle of the involtini reads 160 degrees F.

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