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Greetings again, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo has some time on his hands this afternoon, so even though I already posted this morning (and nobody reads me on Sundays anyway), I thought I’d go ahead and get round to another matter about which I’ve been meaning to write for some time.

Back in 2001, my old father put together a book of his favorite recipes (titled “Cooking With Pops”) and distributed copies to each of us kids.  In fact, he was a pretty good cook in the robust tradition (especially Italian and some German dishes), even if he couldn’t hold a candle to the Mothe’s command of French cuisine and pastry.

I use probably eight or ten of the recipes in his collection.  (I’m a picky eater.)  One of them is for grilled chicken breast with prosciutto and blue cheese.  This one baffled me the first couple times I tried to make it because it sounds so very delicious but the finished project always came out rayther bland.  So finally I decided to tinker a bit, and I must say I believe I got it bang right.

First, the Old Gentleman’s original recipe:

Ingredients:  Chicken breasts; slices of prosciutto; 1 tbs. Worchestershire sauce; 2 tbs. lemon juice; 2 tbs. butter; any blue cheese (Gorganzola, bleu, Saga, etc.)

Preparation:  Insert a sharp knife into the thick end of each breast and cut a lengthwise pocket carefully, making it as wide as possible without puncturing the sides.  Wrap pieces of cheese in prosciutto slices and insert into pockets, sealing openings with a toothpick.  Heat Worchestershire and lemon and add butter to melt.  Grill chicken over coals, basting frequently with the sauce.

Now, Robbo’s modifications:

First, don’t fool about with cutting pockets.  Instead, butterfly the breast.  Also, use a meat hammer to (carefully) flatten each side of it out.  The advantages are that you can get a whole lot more stuffing in and that the chicken itself cooks more thoroughly through.  (If you’re grilling – see below – you’ll want to make sure and lock down the flap tightly with two or three toothpicks and to be very careful when you flip it over.)

Second, regarding the sauce, the Old Boy’s proportions regarding the ingredients are correct, but obviously you may need to adjust the actual amounts depending on how many breasts you’re doing.  Now here’s the thing:  Don’t wait until you’re cooking to start adding the sauce.  Instead, make it up a couple hours ahead of time and let the chicken marinate in it in the fridge until you’re ready to go.  You can lay the breast outer side down in the marinade and just brush some over the inner side.  I suppose because of the butter, it clings very well once brushed on.  True, things get a little messy when you’re adding layers of proscuit and cheese and folding the breast over on itself, but it’s worth it.

I think the problem with the original recipe is that it leaves the chicken to filling ratio too high, and also that the marinade has no real time to penetrate.  Hence, at least to my taste, the blandness.  (To be fair, Youngest at least thinks my modifications make the meat too strong, but she says that about all my cooking.  Snowflake!)

Oh, and a final tip:  As for actual cooking, an alternative to grilling if it’s too hot/cold/rainy outside is to bake your chicken in the oven at 350 degrees for forty-five minutes.  The only downside to this is that baked chicken never looks as aesthetically pleasing as does grilled.

So there you have it.  Easy-peasy and delicious!

UPDATED:  Definitely the right call for Robbo’s Sunday dins.  Nom, nom, nom…..

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo is out on the back porch with a hot cuppa kawfee this early Sunday morning, watching the butterflies out in the buddleia.  We seem to have quite a few of the flittery little critters this year, mostly of the tiger swallowtail variety.

Watching them fool about, I’m reminded of a theory that was fashionable some years ago (string theory, maybe? chaos theory?) concerning the interconnectedness of all things.  It posited something to the effect that the beat of a butterfly’s wings in Africa could affect the course of a typhoon in the Pacific.  If I recall correctly, whoever it was who was pushing this theory (somebody on a book tour, I think) was using it to argue, in the end, that Mankind is a cancer on Mother Gaia.  (Environmentalist Gnostics are, to me, both the most annoying and the most dangerous variety of that cult.)

Of course, the observation of cause and effect and the ultimate interrelationship of all things goes straight back to Aquinas’s Five Proofs.  But this biznay about the African butterfly flattening Hong Kong always struck me as absurdist wanking.  I’m an organic being, just like the world at large, with a similar interrelationship among all my parts.  But a blister on my heel isn’t going to give me prostate cancer.  It seems to me that most localized phenomena are just that.  Besides, there isn’t just one butterfly, there are billions of them.  Surely all those minute impacts together make up a sort of white noise which, somehow, the world manages to muddle through.

Same with Mankind, I’m inclined to believe.

Anyhoo, it’s a lovely Sunday morning, I’m watching the butterflies in appreciation of God’s Creation, and I’m happy.  Hong Kong will just have to take care of itself.

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