My mother and I used to make this for fancy dinner parties all the time when I was a kid. I DO have the recipe written down somewhere, but that somewhere is likely in the bottom of a sealed box in my storage unit. Fortunately for me, this recipe is pretty easy to remember, as it only has five ingredients (including the string).
As recipes go, it is a little time-consuming to make, but it’s totally worth it. Think of it as sort of a fancy chicken tournedo — in reverse.
Start with some boneless, skinless chicken thighs. As many as you want — I used 24 thighs for this.
You’ll need a corresponding amount of prosciutto, which is a thinly sliced ham-like substance. I usually use half a slice for each piece of chicken, though it’s so thinly sliced it tends to fall to pieces when I pull it apart so it’s hard to say how much I really use.
Gren thinks he needs prosciutto. Gren is wrong.
And you’ll need a big bunch of fresh thyme.
Then you’re going to need some butcher’s twine or kitchen string. It’s helpful if you’ve already got it pre-cut into the number of pieces you need. You’ll need about 8″-10″ pieces to wrap around each piece of chicken.
First you’re going to need to strip all the wee leaves off your thyme. This is annoying and takes a while.
Then you’ll need to cut off all the excess fat on your chicken thighs.
Open up the thigh so the cut side is up (this is where the bone used to be). Line this side with a piece or two of prosciutto.
Sprinkle on some of your thyme (yes, I know that I didn’t succeed in getting it all off the stem). I like to also garnish it with some pepper. These pink peppercorns make a nice contrast.
Then roll the thigh back up and hold it closed. Get your string ready. The reason you want your string to be pre-cut is you don’t want to have chicken fingers all over your ball of twine. That is gross.
Wrap the string around the thigh two or three times and tie the ends into a simple but loose knot.
I showed you the steps for one thigh but usually I approach this with a Fordist mentality and do it all in an assembly line. Doing all of each step at once helps me to budget my use of thyme — otherwise I end up running out at the end.
I actually prepped these the day before I cooked them and kept them in a sealed container in the fridge. It saved me precious time during the day of the dinner party.
Your final ingredient will be a nice bottle of Chianti, an Italian red wine. Any red wine will do, but Chianti is in the name of the recipe so it makes sense to use it. I picked up the cheapest bottle I could find at the LCBO and I think it was about $13. You’re going to be cooking with it, so it doesn’t have to be excellent or anything. For 24 thighs I used the whole bottle, so you’ll probably only use half that if you’re making less.
I also purchased especially for this day a new electric skillet. We’d always used an electric skillet before to make this dish, simply because it was large and we could put it elsewhere and save room on the stovetop. I got a good deal on this Hamilton Beach one from Home Outfitters. You can easily make this in one or two skillets on your stove top. Don’t feel you need to buy a new appliance if you’re not going to use it often. I am going to use this a bunch, which is why I bought it, and I made sure to read many reviews before I did!
Anyway, heat your skillet to medium-high and plop in your chicken. This skillet fits EXACTLY 24 rolled chicken thighs, which is an added bonus.
Let those cook, rotating occasionally with a pair of tongs, until they are nicely browned on all sides, about 8-10 minutes.
Lower the heat to medium and pour in the Chianti.
The liquid level should come to about 1/2 to 2/3 the height of the chicken.
Cover and let that simmer for about 20 minutes, until the wine is reduced somewhat. Rotate the thighs halfway through so that the colouring will be even (the wine will dye the chicken purple).
I used an instant read thermometer to check the internal temperature of the thighs, which will be done when they read at 165°F.
Use a pair of scissors to cut the string on all the thighs and serve them on rice or noodles. So decadently simple!