Chicken Thighs Stuffed with Parma Ham, Mozzarella, Pesto & Olives

Waitrose keep sending me chicken thighs. This is not some altruistic move on their part – they are not suddenly overcome by thoughts of my welfare and wishing to feed me up, neither is it one of those lovely PR treats that bloggers get sent (I got sent a chocolate fountain and a box of coco-pops squares once by a lovely man at Kelloggs, and some fancy tea – sadly I had nothing to say about either thing and forgot about them. I kept meaning to ebay the chocolate fountain, and then I dropped it on the way to storing it above a cupboard). No, nothing as exciting as this. Simply, it’s what happens when the person doing your shopping in store in preparation for home delivery notices that your chosen cut of poultry or game is out of stock and doesn’t have the imagination to replace with something else. This has happened three weeks in a row now, a kilo of thighs each time. I’ll be doing my own shopping next week.

Anyway, I’ve started to run out of ideas and enthusiasm for these things. Let me introduce you to recipe 29#, which was actually very nice. Feel free to vary the stuffing – if you don’t like any of the ingredients, you can simply omit them. On a better day, I would have made a tomato, wine and garlic sauce to braise these in (it wasn’t a good day. At All.) and I think they would be nicest served with saut√© potatoes or a simple risotto.

  • 4 skin on chicken thighs, either boneless or you will need to remove the bone yourself. This is an easy enough job, and it will give you a sense of achievement to do it , but it does need a small sharp knife. This is a great little clip to show you how.
  • 4 slices parma ham
  • 1 ball italian mozzarella, sliced
  • pitted black olives – 8, slice in half
  • pesto. A jar will do or 100g from a deli or make your own
  • sprinkle of parmesan (optional)
  • toothpicks or string to hold thighs together

Firstly, you will need to flatten your thighs. Get a meat mallet or rolling-pin and some good clingfilm. Put the thigh on a chopping board, skin side up and cover with the film. Then bash, firmly and consistently until the thigh is flat and longer/wider. Turn the thigh upside down so the flesh side is facing you and pile on the ingredients in the following order: Pesto, approx two teaspoons, spread all over the thigh, parma ham, mozzarella slices, olive halves and a sprinkle of parmesan and season with salt and pepper.

Now, roll your chicken up, like a swiss roll. Try and keep some tension in the flesh if you can, to stop the ingredients going everywhere and to ensure a fairly tightly rolled thigh. Inevitably some of the stuffing will attempt to escape, and inevitably you will need to stop mid-course and regather something, but it is not a highly technical operation. Secure with toothpick or string, or in my shameful case, a wooden skewer and stuff any bits that have fallen out, back in. When you’ve done all four, put them in a suitable roasting tin and either pop them in the fridge if you’re cooking in advance, or alternatively preheat your oven to gas 6.

Cook for approximately 30- 35 minutes.  There will be a lovely gravy in the pan, which you should pour on top of the thighs when you serve them.


Tagliatelle with Aubergine, Tomato and Mozzarella

Sometimes, only a big plate of pasta will do. You could omit the chilli or the capers if you wanted to. But I wouldn’t. I never used to eat aubergine, imagining I didn’t like it. But I really do.

Serves 2 greedy people.

  • small aubergine (about 300-400g), diced into roughly into half inch cubes -don’t get a ruler out or anything, just not big chunks.
  • olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp capers, finely chopped
  • small glass white wine
  • 75g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 pint passata (although, at a push, a tin of chopped tomatoes will be ok)
  • 1 tbsp torn basil leaves thats about 6 or 7
  • 100g buffalo mozzarella, chopped
  • 25g parmesan cheese, grated plus some for sprinkling
  • salt & pepper
  • 250g tagliatelle.

This is delicious.

Preheat the oven to gas mark 6. Put the aubergine in a large roasting tin, and sprinkle over a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and a generous amount of salt and freshly milled pepper. Cook in the oven for about 20 minutes.

Heat a large frying pan, and put in another couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Put in the chilli and garlic and stir, for a moment or so. Put in the cherry tomatoes, passata, capers, basil and wine. Simmer this gently for ten minutes – don’t worry if the sauce reduces down a touch. In the meantime, cook your pasta – mine took 7 minutes. When the pasta is cooked, put the aubergines and cheeses into the tomato sauce and stir until the cheese is melted (although I wouldn’t want the mozzarella to melt completely) and the sauce has returned to simmering point. Drain the pasta and serve onto a wam plate with the sauce on top.