Grilled Chicken Saltimbocca - These may look fairly elegant, but in actuality they are pretty rustic. We start off with boneless, skinless chicken breasts that we thinly slice horizontally into 3-4 cutlets. Season with pepper, garlic powder, oregano and red pepper flakes.
Next we take two paper-thin slices of prosciutto and lay them down on a piece of wax paper, slightly overlapping. Place a fresh leaf of basil in the center of the prosciutto then a chicken cutlet on top of the basil.
Starting on one side of the prosciutto, start rolling length-wise over the chicken until you get to the other end. The end result will look like a ham and chicken cigar.
We can head out to the grill with a soaked cedar plank in hand. We get a medium-sized fire going on one side of the grill and place the plank full of chicken on the other side. Cover the grill and let these cook for about 20-25 minutes.
As the chicken is smoking, we can knock out the ragout and the finishing sauce for the chicken. In a grill pan toss in a couple handful of grape tomatoes and shake the pan consistently until the tomatoes soften slightly and start to char. Remove from heat and bring into the kitchen.
To complete the ragout, in a sauté pan soften some chopped garlic in warmed olive oil. Toss in the tomatoes along with a 1/4 cup of chicken stock and gently crush the tomatoes. Add in a can of drained white beans and some freshly shredded parmesan then season with salt and pepper. The final touch before we remove from the heat is a sprinkle of fresh basil chiffonade.
We still have a few minutes before the chicken is done, just enough time to get the finishing sauce done. In a small sauce pan add in 1/3 cup each of chicken stock and white wine and bring to a simmer. Mix in 1/4 cup of ricotta cheese and the zest of one lemon and whisk constantly until thick and smooth. Season with salt and pepper and reduce heat to it's lowest setting to thicken slightly.
Pull the chicken off the grill and place them in the sauce for a minute or two just to keep them warm while we plate this meal up.
In a shallow bowl ladle some of the grilled tomato and white bean ragout on the bottom. Arrange the Saltimbocca on top and garnish with additional parmesan cheese. The marriage of the salty and crispy chicken with the tart, slightly acidic and creamy bean ragout was perfect. The components worked together in such a way that it reminded us of an Italian version of a cassoulet.
New Belgium Brewing Spring Blonde - We've lost count on the number of New Belgium beers we've featured here, but what we haven't forgotten is just how consistently good their beers are. Their spring seasonal, aptly named Spring Blonde is no different. The beer looks unassuming enough; a light golden color with a good amount of effervescence and a pillowy head that resembles a poached egg. The aroma is bright and lemony with a bit of grassiness. With the look and aroma, our brain was anticipating a straight forward lager-like flavor, but instead we were treated to a fresh aromatic ale that is at the same time earthy and slightly hoppy. The beer is light enough and easy-drinking enough to have a few of these without batting an eye. It was just what we were looking for in the pairing with this hearty meal. The summery ale provided a nice balance to the saltiness of the dish and cut through the richness.
The Graviators "Motherlode" - We've mentioned this on here quite a bit lately, but this fact bears repeating: 2014 is shaping up to be one incredible year for new music. Tonight we spin the new album "Motherload" from Sweden's The Graviators and it is right up there with the year's best releases. The opening track not only has a Sabbath-y sound thanks to the dark and heavy Iommi-esque riff, but it also follows the Sabs' propensity of naming tracks with multiple titles with "Leifs Last Breath/Dance of the Valkyrie". The best track on the album and one we can't get enough of is "Narrow Minded Bastards". The song starts off in sludgy fashion but then this killer riff kicks in along with the perfect head banging groove. The track sounds very similar to fellow Swedes Terra Firma, who are in our mind one of the most underrated Swedish stoner rock bands. Things get a little darker on "Bed of Bitches" which has a certain sinister Alice Cooper vibe to it. "Tigress of Siberia" is a little more experimental. It mixes a jazzy proggy beat with some atmospheric and tripped out guitar work and a little spoken word thrown in for good measure. This lasts for roughly the first third of the song then the tune starts to pick up steam. What the track turns into is a nice slice of early 80s NWOBHM. The 11 minute "Lost Lord" is the epitome of a sludgy. groove-oriented jam complete with infectious riff. Bringing things over the top are the excellent soaring vocals. The back and forth between the huge and heavy chorus and the chill, bluesy versus as well as the downright funky jam, make this one of the best tracks on the album. The band is back to the sledgehammering fuzzed out rock on "Corpauthority", at least to start off the track. The song then settles into a Scorpions "The Zoo"-like riff and groove. The song remains heavy, but super catchy. "Drowned in Leaves" is an instant doom classic in the same vein as vintage Pentagram. The song is dark and eerie with an undeniable heaviness to it. If it's possible, "Eagles Rising" gets about as slow and sludgy as Electric Wizard going as far as mimicking the same fuzzed out vocal effect. The album ends with the 13+ minute "Druids Ritual". The album finishes as strong as it starts with this mid-tempo rocker. The highlight of the track is the stellar vocals which really have a chance to shine in front of the fuzzy atmospheric noodling. The heavy jam that ends the track flat out slams putting a loud exclamation point on this unbelievable album.