Posted by: Erica Retrochef | May 31, 2014

Chicken Fantasia

This is the last recipe we’ll be featuring (for now) from the Fondue and Tabletop Cooking book. It was tagged with a post-it note: “I’m not really sure what this is, but wow…

6 small chicken breasts (about 2 1/2 pounds), boned and skinned
6 thin slices boiled ham
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup apricot preserves
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 8 3/4-ounce can pineapple tidbits
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup brandy

Place chicken breasts, boned side up, on cutting board. Working from center out, pound chicken lightly to make cutlets about 1/4 inch thick. Place a ham slice on each cutlet; tuck in sides and roll up jelly-roll fashion. Skewer or tie. In large skillet slowly brown chicken in butter. Stir in water, preserves, vinegar, salt, and dry mustard. Cook, covered, for 20 minutes.

Drain pineapple, reserving syrup. Blend cornstarch and reserved syrup. Stir cornstarch mixture and pineapple tidbits into sauce in skillet. Cook, uncovered, 15 minutes or till chicken is tender, turning chicken rolls once.

At serving time transfer chicken to blazer pan of chafing dish; garnish with canned apricot halves, if desired. Place over chafing dish burner. Pour sauce into heat-proof dish. In small saucepan warm brandy; at table pour brandy over sauce. Ignite immediately; spoon flaming sauce over chicken. Makes 6 servings.


Chicken is actually fairly hard to flatten by pounding. (Other recipes that call for fairly flat chicken suggest butterflying, a method which is faster and much cleaner, albeit less cathartic.)

One of the “cutlets” got so mangled by overzealous pounding that it couldn’t be reasonably rolled. I just sauteed it instead, for a different (non-retro) recipe.


The chicken pancakes that did make it through in one piece were rolled around ham, and then browned.


Five chicken-ham roulades is pretty substantial (these were the smallest breasts I could get!), and it barely fit in the skillet. There was no way this sauce was getting “stirred”, I just sort of sloshed it around until everything was reasonably juicy.

It then sat cooking for a long, long time.


The well-cooked chicken was then transferred into the chafing dish… actually a skillet over a Sterno can.

I might have a fondue pot, but I don’t have a real chafing dish.


Warmed brandy (~120°) was gently poured over the sauce. I tried hard to keep the brandy on top, since it’s kinda hard to light something on fire when it’s under a bunch of apricot-pineapple sauce.


And it worked!!!

But this is the part that really bothered me. You can’t see that I managed to get the sauce catch fire. (There’s a sort of pinkish-purple flame line running from the middle of the picture up towards 10 o’ clock. It’s really subtle.)

Of course, it’s not just the photography that was problematic. The flames were nearly invisible — despite hearing a “fwooshing” sound from the flames, I wasn’t convinced they were there until I burned my finger trying to feel around for them. (One of my cleverer moments.)


This was… fun?… but a little bit bland. The fruity sauce was good, but it was only on the outside of the chicken-ham rolls. The meat didn’t have any seasoning of its own — maybe with some salt, pepper, or other spices, it might have transitioned from boring to pretty good.


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