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Sue couldn’t resist adding this recipe to the store of Portuguese muffin sandwich recipes she came up with after visiting the Cape. Bubala’s by the Sea, nestled along "restaurant row" (Commercial Street) in Provincetown, at the very tip of the Cape, features a sage-scented chicken and prosciutto sandwich with Swiss cheese on whole wheat focaccia. Sue came back raving about it and, since she’s a talented cook as well as a baker, had no trouble re-creating it, one happy lunchtime, for all of us here.
1 1/2 cups (7 3/8 ounces) 100% white whole wheat flour or traditional whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) water
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
all of the sponge
1/2 cup (4 ounces) water
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup (4 7/8 ounces) King Arthur 100% White Whole Wheat Flour or King Arthur Traditional Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 cup (1 1/2 ounces) potato flour OR 1/2 cup potato flakes
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) brown sugar or honey
2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons olive oil
coarse salt and dried herbs
4 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
1 tablespoon ground sage
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 cup (2 ounces)King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) olive oil, ghee, or clarified butter (to saute chicken)
8 slices prosciutto ham (or other ham, thinly sliced, about 4 to 6 ounces)
8 slices (6 ounces) Gruyère or Swiss cheese
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) drained capers, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) lemon juice
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons (1/4 ounce) chopped parsley
1/2 cup (4 ounces) mayonnaise
curly lettuce and half-sour pickles, for garnish
Sponge: Four to six hours (or up to 12 hours) before you want to make the dough, mix the sponge ingredients together. Cover and allow to rise at warm room temperature (75°F to 85°F, if possible).
Manual/Mixer Method: Combine the sponge with the remaining dough ingredients and mix till cohesive. Knead the dough, by hand or mixer, till it's smooth, soft, and slightly sticky, about 5 to 10 minutes, adding additional water or all-purpose flour as needed. Place the kneaded dough in a greased bowl, cover it, and let it rise at room temperature for about 1 hour, or until it’s puffy though not necessarily doubled.
Bread Machine Method: Place the sponge and the remaining dough ingredients into the bucket of your bread machine. Program the machine for dough or manual, and press Start. Check the dough after about 15 minutes; it should be smooth looking, but still soft and somewhat sticky. Add additional water or flour as needed. Allow the machine to complete its cycle.
Shaping and Baking: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured or greased work surface. Knead it gently a few times to deflate it, then place it on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Pat and stretch the dough into an 11 x 15-inch rectangle. Brush it with oil, then sprinkle sparingly with salt and the dried or fresh herbs of your choice. Cover the focaccia (a proof cover works well here), and let it rise for 45 minutes, or until it’s very puffy looking.
Just before baking, dimple the surface of the focaccia with your fingers. Press down firmly; you don’t want to deflate it, but neither do you want these characteristic dimples to disappear. Bake the focaccia in a preheated 375°F oven for 22 to 25 minutes, until it’s a light, golden brown. Remove it from the oven, and immediately transfer it to a wire rack to cool; this will keep it crisp. When cool, cut the focaccia into 8 squares.
Preparing the chicken: Cut the chicken breasts in half, and remove any visible fat, tendons or gristle. Place the breasts on a cutting board, and cover them with waxed paper or plastic wrap, to prevent splattering. Using a mallet or rolling pin, flatten the breasts to a thickness of about 1/8 inch.
Rub the chicken with the sage, salt and pepper. Dredge the breasts in the flour, shaking off the excess.
Heat the oil, ghee, or clarified butter in a heavy, large skillet set over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until it’s golden, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Transfer the chicken, in a single layer, to a baking sheet or other large heat-proof pan, and place one slice of cheese and one slice of ham on top of each piece. (You may do this ahead of time, if you like, refrigerating the prepared chicken till you’re ready to serve the sandwiches.) Place the pan in a preheated 350°F oven and heat the chicken just until the edges of the ham curl and the cheese melts.
Sauce: Stir together all of the sauce ingredients, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Assembling the Sandwiches: Slice the squares of focaccia. Spread the bottom half of each with a tablespoon of the sauce. Top with a leaf of lettuce, the warm chicken breast, and the top half of focaccia. Serve warm, with half-sour pickles. Yield: 8 sandwiches.