Essentially this recipe is chicken breasts stuffed with Boursin and wrapped in Parma ham served with an asparagus risotto. It’s a sort of amalgam of the pheasant recipe in this post, and the asparagus and Parma ham suggestion in this post.
I was just wondering what to call it while I was leafing through a book of misspellings used in notices and menus by foreign hotels and restaurants. I was thinking that it was a bit of an arrogant premise for a book, and wondering how accurately the editors could spell the languages of all the foreigners from whose mistakes they were commercially benefiting, when I came upon this delightful Egyptian name for a chicken dish which I thought was pure poetry and would do perfectly for this recipe.
The Boursin stops the chicken from becoming dry and gives flavour… so does the Parma ham, so the dish is doubly good. The risotto cooks really easily in agas and rayburns – just shove in the simmering oven – but it’s also fine on a steady hob. For some essential risotto-making tips go here.
- 4 chicken breasts, large enough to cut and stuff
- 8 slices Parma ham
- 2 tbsp olive oil plus a bit more probably
- couple of knobs of butter
- 2 banana shallots – finely chopped
- 150g/5 oz Boursin with garlic and herbs
- 450g/1 lb green asparagus (small and thin type)
- about 20 slivers of parmesan
- 500ml/1 pt/2 cups hot (just boiled) chicken stock (made with three cubes of knorr)
- 100ml/½ cup dry vermouth – Noilly Prat for choice
- about 10 Sichuan peppercorns, ground in a pestle and mortar
- 200g/8 oz/1 cup Arborio rice
- preheat the oven to 220ºC
- in a saucepan which can go into the oven, fry the banana shallot in the oil
- when the shallot is beginning to go translucent add the rice, and stir to coat
- add all the stock and the vermouth and the pepper, put on the lid, put in the oven (top right if you have an aga) for twenty minutes – PUT ON THE TIMER
- cut a pocket into the chicken breasts and stuff with the Boursin
- wrap each breast with a couple of slices of parma ham
- fry the chicken breasts gently in butter and olive oil about 8 minutes on each side. Keep warm (you can cover with foil. If you have an aga put on the warming plate)
- blanch the asparagus in boiling salted water:
- snap off the ends which are inedible – just take the asparagus spear, holding the very end in one hand, and about two inches up with the other, and bend. It will snap naturally in the right place. Magic!
- salt your blanching water well. Why? Well, obviously it enhances the taste, but also because it prevents nutrients from leaching out into the water*. It may seem a lot but work on a tablespoon of salt per 3 cups (750ml/1½ pts) of water.
- cut into lengths about an inch long, saving the tips.
- blanch the non-tip lengths for about four minutes.
- take out the risotto (if it has been twenty minutes). Add the butter.
- lift the asparagus lengths out with a slotted spoon and add to the risotto, adjust the seasoning of the risotto
- in the same water blanch the tips separately for about a minute. Drain, run briefly under very cold water, and use as garnish for the risotto along with the parmesan flakes.
- serve with the chicken