This Chicken Saltimbocca recipe is one of my favorite weeknight one anchor meals and one of my go to recipes when I’m cooking dinner last minute.
It’s fast and really easy, but also impressive enough for company. You can easily find the ingredients and the whole meal is cooked in one pan, which I really need to get used to given that I’ll soon be cooking on a sailboat.
I always try to keep packaged prosciutto in my deli meats drawer and I usually have fresh sage in my herb garden (yes, I plan on having a mini herb garden on the boat!), so just a quick stop to pick up some chicken and a low carb gourmet meal is ready in no time. If you’re lucky to have a Trader Joe’s nearby, they usually carry fresh looking sage, organic chicken thighs, and high quality prosciutto at an unbeatable price.
There are quite a few versions of this dish, all pretty much adapted from the classic Saltimbocca Alla Romana (see the Foodstory). I like to use chicken thighs instead of the more common chicken breasts. Breasts work just as well, I’m just more of a dark meat person.
The ingredients may be few, but they create such magical deliciousness together! The Prosciutto adds a salty component and the sage, crisped in butter, adds savoriness and crunch. Technically, you don’t have to crisp the sage first, and most recipes just add raw sage on top so that it cooks with the chicken, but I prefer to first cook the sage in some butter and then layer it under the prosciutto, this way the sage stays put and you don’t need to use toothpicks to secure it.
And the crispy sage leaves make a yummy pre-dinner nibble, so make extra!
You can also add cheese over the prosciutto (fontina, mozzarella or provolon) at the end of cooking and broil the chicken for a couple of minutes until the cheese slightly browns… delicious!
One thing to note: take it easy on the salt. Because the prosciutto is already very salty, It’s better to start with less and then add salt at the end if necessary. I give it a very light sprinkle, about half of what I would normally add, and it’s usually plenty. I also pass around some Maldon (the best salt flakes in the world!) if anyone needs more.
Chicken Saltimbocca pairs great with just about any side!
For low anchor meals, some ideas are a fresh green salad, green beans with Italian pesto sauce, broccolini sautéed in some oil sprinkled with parmesan or a light cauliflower gratin. For higher anchor sides, how about some gnocchi with a cheesy butter sauce to complement the flavors of the prosciutto and sage?
This recipe is a great addition to your weeknight dinner rotation. Easy to remember, fast to prepare and the best part… it has no carbs! Well, depending on the side 😉
My Prosciutto and crispy sage chicken thighs are based on a popular Italian recipe called Saltimbocca Alla Romana. The classic Roman version of this dish is composed of thin veal cutlets, covered with Prosciutto slices and topped with a sage leaf. The tender veal is rolled up, secured with a toothpick, dusted with flour and cooked in some oil and / or butter. A quick deglaze of the pan with some white wine and the addition of a little butter creates a simple and delicious sauce.
The ingredients are few, and the cooking method is simple, but the result is mouthwatering! It’s so delicious and so loved by Italians, that the name literally translates to “jumping, or leaping inside the mouth”. “Salti” means jump and “bocca” is the Italian word for mouth. “salti in bocca” = “jumps in mouth”. And how cool is it that we share a preposition with the Italians? “In” is used the same way in the Italian language. There’s quite a few words that I’m glad we share… pizza, lasagna, pasta, and gelato 😉
Though it is one of the most popular dishes in Rome, the Saltimbocca is thought to have originated in the Northern part of Italy, in a town called Brescia. The first known documentation of Veal Saltimbocca is from 1891, when the noted Italian businessman and writer Pellegrino Artusi published the recipe in his classic cookbook “La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiere bene” (The science in the kitchen and the art of eating well).
His widely popular book is considered by many to be the most influential modern Italian cookbook. Legend says Artusi became fond of the dish after tasting it at Trattoria Venete, a casual Roman cafe, and described it his book as “light and healthy”. I agree with him… as long as it’s not piled on a pound of cheesy pasta with garlic bread on the side.
- 4 Chicken thighs (if thighs are small, then get 2 per person)
- A bunch of sage leaves
- Prosciutto slices (1 to 2 per thigh, depending on size)
- About 1 cup flour
- Olive oil or Canola oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbs Garlic powder
Remove thighs from package and pound between 2 sheets of plastic or paper until flattened a bit. If the thighs come from the butcher shop, you can just use the paper they were wrapped in. Sprinkle with a little kosher salt, some fresh ground black pepper and some garlic powder if using (can also just use garlic salt, but then no need to add kosher salt). Let sit out while you crisp the sage.
Heat 1 or 2 tbs butter over medium heat, until butter melts. Add the sage and make sure it’s spread out as evenly as possible with the flat side of the leaf against the pan. Cook for a few minutes and flip to the other side with tongs. The amount of cooking time varies, and you’ll get better at knowing when it’s done with practice, but it takes about 3 minutes per side. Remove sage with tongs to a small plate or bowl. And go ahead… try one. It’s savory, buttery and crispy… a satisfying snack that won’t affect your waistline. Just leave some for the chicken
Place the crisped sage leaves on the chicken thighs, distributing them evenly. Top each chicken thigh with the prosciutto, pressing gently with your hand to make it stick slightly and wrapping the edges a bit so the prosciutto doesn’t fall out. Carefully dip each piece in the flour, including the prosciutto side.
Heat a tbs of olive oil and a tbs of butter over medium high heat, until butter melts and begins to bubble. Place as many pieces as you can fit without overcrowding (thighs should not be touching, otherwise they won’t crisp as good) in the hot pan prosciutto side down first, this will make it easier to flip. Let the chicken crisp for 5 or 6 minutes, then flip to the other side and cook another 7 minutes or so. Lower the heat if pan is smoking. If you have a meat thermometer, use it. Chicken is done when it registers 160 (it will cook further). If not, cut into a piece to check.
Instructions with photos
Prepare the thighs:
Crisp the sage:
Cover the chicken with sage and prosciutto:
Dip the chicken in flour:
Cook the chicken:
Serve the chicken saltimbocca along with a delicious side: