Chicken or Turkey Breast Marinated in Herbs and Spices and Layered with Zucchini

Petto di Pollo O Tacchino in Carpione

Carpione is a variety of trout native to the waters of Lake Garda, in northern Italy. It is scarce today, but it was once abundant and often more was caught than could be consumed immediately. This gave rise to a cooking procedure that allowed the fish to be conserved for several days, even in the days of erratic refrigeration. It became the prevalent way of preparing carpione and whenever other fish was cooked in that manner the style of the dish would be called in carpione.

The procedure is simple. The principal ingredient is fried, then put up in a marinade of vinegar, onion, and garlic, a treatment that works well on delicate flesh. In the variation below, the vinegar marinade is more aromatic than the standard one employed with fish, and I have found it imparts a lovely fragrance to breast of chicken or turkey. The addition of fried zucchini is logical because there are recipes in which zucchini alone is fried and then put up in vinegar and, if you are serving this as an entrée, it makes other vegetable accompaniments unnecessary.

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Ingredients

  • pounds zucchini
  • 2 pounds boned chicken breasts or 2 pounds turkey breast
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced thin, about 1½ to 2 cups
  • 1 cup very thinly sliced celery
  • Salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced very thin
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 sage leaves
  • cup white wine vinegar
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 4 or 5 cloves
  • A tiny piece of cinnamon
  • Black pepper ground fresh
  • Vegetable oil
  • cups unflavored bread crumbs lightly toasted in a skillet or in the oven and spread on a plate

A deep rectangular serving dish about 13 by 9 inches, or one of comparable size

Method

  1. Soak and clean the zucchini, trim away the ends, and slice them into thin rounds.

If Using Chicken Breasts

  1. If you are taking the breasts off a chicken yourself, skin them, removing both the fatty outer skin and the thin, transparent membrane beneath it. Look for and remove any bits of bone that may still be attached. Cut the larger muscles lengthwise, to obtain scaloppine-like slices about ¼ inch thick. Pick out and discard any bits of fat or skin.

If Using Turkey

  1. Slice it, cutting across the grain, into thin ¼-inch cutlets.

  1. Put the olive oil, onion, celery, and some salt into a medium skillet and turn on the heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is very tender, but without letting it become colored.
  2. Add the garlic, bay leaves, sage, vinegar, wine, water, sugar, cloves, and cinnamon and liberal grindings of black pepper, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, turning the ingredients over from time to time.
  3. Pour enough vegetable oil into a frying pan to come at least ½ inch up its sides, and turn on the heat to medium high. When the oil is hot enough to sizzle as a zucchini round is dropped into it, slip in as many zucchini as will fit without being crowded. Cook them just until they have become colored a medium brown, transfer them to a bowl using a slotted spoon or spatula, and sprinkle lightly with salt. Repeat the procedure until you have fried all the zucchini. Do not empty out the oil in the pan.
  4. Beat the egg in a small bowl or deep plate. Dip each piece of chicken or turkey in the beaten egg, letting the excess flow back into the bowl or plate, then turn it in the bread crumbs, coating both sides. Lay each piece down in a platter, and pat both sides lightly with the palm of your hand to cause the coating to adhere securely and evenly.
  5. Place the pan in which you fried the zucchini back on the burner and turn on the heat to medium high. As soon as the oil is hot slip in as many pieces of chicken or turkey as will fit loosely. Cook until a fine brown crust has formed on both sides, then, using a slotted spoon or spatula, transfer them to a platter lined with paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Repeat the procedure until you have done all the chicken or turkey.
  6. Cover the bottom of the serving dish with a single layer of chicken or turkey, distribute some of the zucchini over it, then top with some of the onion, vinegar, and herb marinade. Proceed thus, continuing to build up layers of meat, zucchini, and marinade until you have used up all the ingredients. Top off with a layer of marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, or up to 4 or 5 days. Discard bay leaves; allow to return to room temperature before serving.

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