Chicken Valdostana is a stuffed chicken breast with prosciutto and Fontina cheese. It is a traditional recipe from the Valled’Aosta region of northwest Italy bordered by France and Switzerland. This region of the Western Alps is absolutely breathtaking and famous for the iconic snow-capped peaks of the Matterhorn and a delicious chicken recipe called Chicken Valdostana.
I often make this dish for cooking classes. People tend to enjoy learning how to make it and it’s a step up from regular breaded chicken. The recipe as you’ll see below uses some ingredients that many might say aren’t Italian. However, in the Valle d’Aosta region of Italy, they are quite common. To accompany this dish I oftentimes make a nice creamy fregula.
WHAT IS FREGULA?
Fregula (also fregola) is a type of pasta from Sardinia. It is similar to North African Berkoukes (pearl pasta) and Israeli couscous. Fregula typically is made from semolina dough that has been rolled into balls 2–3 mm and toasted in an oven. It’s absolutely delicious and it is a perfect accompaniment for this chicken dish.
Chicken Valdostana with Risotto-Style Fregula
- 4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 4 thin slices of prosciutto
- 4 slices of Fontina cheese
- ¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
- 1 ½ cups plain bread crumbs
- 4 tsp. sage, chopped
- 2/3 cup frying oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Toothpicks (to close the stuffed chicken)
- Trim, rinse and pat the chicken breasts dry
- Make a pocket on the thicker end of each breast. Cut ½ in from larger end and slice to smaller end about ¼ inch.
- Place a slice of prosciutto inside each pocket. Then add the cheese, and make sure it is inside the pocket.
- Press the chicken closed and secure with toothpicks if using.
- Line up 3 shallow dishes. Fill the first with flour, the second with the eggs and the mustard whipped together. In the third dish add the breadcrumbs, sage, ½ tsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper.
Tip: Once the chicken is breaded place them on a tray and set them uncovered in your refrigerator. This will allow the breading to adhere to the chicken better so it won’t come off during frying.
- Heat your oven to 350°F
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper
- Dredge in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs. Press well to make sure it’s well coated and the pocket is tightly closed.
- Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes to set the coating.
- Now, heat a frying pan with cooking oil over medium-high heat.
- When the oil is just about smoking carefully add the chicken. Do not overcrowd your pan, cook in batches if necessary
- Fry them for about 3 minutes on each side and place them on your baking tray.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F
TIP: Use a slotted spoon is best for turning and removing the chicken breasts. Tongs can damage the delicate cruse and cause it to fall off.
To Make the Fregula
- 10 dried porcini mushrooms
- ½ cup hot water
- ¾ pound mixed mushrooms (see Kitchen Note)
- 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- ½ cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup fregola sarda (per person)
- 2 fresh thyme sprigs plus one tablespoon minced Italian flat-leaf parsley. leaves, divided
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter.
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped Italian parsley
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Heat the chicken stock over medium-low heat to warm.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 12-inch skillet set on medium heat. When hot, add onion and sauté for 4 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
- Stir in fregola and warm it. Then add the white wine and let reduce. Once evaporated add a few ladles of the chicken stock and stir well.
- Cook, stirring often until liquid has almost been absorbed. Continue adding broth until fregola is tender but not mushy, about 25 minutes.
- Stir in the cream and let cookout a minute or two. Then remove from heat and stir in the butter, cheese, and herbs.
- Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary and serve immediately.