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If you entertain frequently during the holidays, then December is either your favorite consecutive 31 days or your living nightmare. Hopefully you fall into the former category and take the holiday season as an opportunity to show your loved ones how much you care by plying them with lots of delicious food and drinks. While there is always a time and a place for holiday classics like peppermint eggnog, spirited cinnamon eggnog and cranberry cheddar cheese ball with pecans, the holidays are also about breaking bread with family and friends over dinner, which can be as simple as a roast chicken or as elaborate as these Italian stuffed chicken breasts with pesto, mozzarella and Sopressata Italian Salami.
When I think of entertaining, one of the first things I think about is wine, cheese and charcuterie (why these haven’t been made into individual food groups yet, I refuse to understand). The thing is, charcuterie pairs really well with wine and cheese, but just like cheese pairs really well with breakfast, lunch, dinner and that snack you eat standing in the kitchen sometime after 10:00 p.m. (I hope it’s not just me), charcuterie pairs really well in a lot of my favorite recipes and occasions.
Even though charcuterie can seem daunting with so many different varieties, Creminelli Fine Meats are just as tasty when included in a showstopper dinner recipe as they are when they’re served alongside a creamy brie and your favorite bottle of red. You can find some Creminelli meats at the Whole Foods deli counter, while other varieties are available near the cheese and cured meats.
This the holiday season, I’ll be including a few of my favorite Creminelli products into some of my most popular dishes for a crowd, starting with a stuffed chicken breast recipe that is full of different textures and flavors: savory Sopressata salami, creamy mozzarella cheese and tender chicken breasts topped with fresh and earthy pesto marinara sauce.
First, let’s talk a little bit about Sopressata. A recipe from northeast Italy where wine and garlic are used everywhere, Sopressa refers to a time when the salami was pressed between planks to age. The kidney-bean shape of theSopressata Salami comes from a special natural beef casing traditionally used for Sopressa and Finocchiona salamis. It’s best on gourmet sandwiches, pizza or paired with Italian cheeses. That’s in history, anyway.
I’d like to think it’s now best stuffed into a chicken breast and served alongside a simple cocktail made with 2 parts sparkling cider, 1 part pear juice and if you’re celebrating the season at home, 1 part whiskey or bourbon for an extra kick.
- 4 cups of marinara sauce (or one 28-ounce jar)
- 1 cup of pesto sauce (homemade or store bought)
- 4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded thin (about 1.5 pounds)
- Coarse salt and fresh black pepper
- 4 ounces thinly sliced Creminelli Fine Meats Sopressa Italian Salami
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Meanwhile, in a medium sized bowl, mix the marinara sauce and pesto sauce. Coat the bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole dish with about 1 cup of the sauce mixture. .
- Spread chicken breasts onto a clean work surface and season generously with salt and pepper. Place one or two slices of salami on each chicken breast starting from the thinnest end and stopping an inch from the opposite end. Sprinkle 2 heaping tablespoons of shredded mozzarella on top of the salami and roll them together.
- Place them in a pan seam side down, secured with a tooth pick. .
- Spoon remaining sauce over the chicken breasts and sprinkle the tops with the remaining mozzarella.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until the dish is bubbling. Remove toothpicks and serve hot over pasta or steamed spinach.