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Roulade of Chicken and Asparagus with Parma Ham, Baked Potatoes and Sage Sauce

Today (11 November) is the Feast of St Martin, one of the Scottish Quarter Days.  It is usually referred to as Martinmas but often pronounced Martimas.  Before the change of the calendar it was the same day as Halloween and Martinmas was traditionally the day that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.  This is reflected in the traditional ballad The Wife of Usher's Well, when her sons indeed return from the dead -

It fell about the Martinmas,
When nights are lang and mirk,
The carlin's wife's three sons came hame,
And their hats were made o' the birk.
It neither grew in syke nor ditch,
Nor yet in ony sheugh,
But at the gates o' Paradise,
The birk grew fair eneugh.

In by-gone times our forebears believed that at cock crow the spirits would once again return to their graves.  The crowing of a cockerel, especially a black one, was also thought to frighten away evil spirits. 

This week's recipe is chicken based - Roulade of Chicken and Asparagus with Parma Ham, Baked Potatoes and Sage Sauce (with thanks to Electric Scotland) which is a treat at any time of the year.

Roulade of Chicken and Asparagus with Parma Ham, Baked Potatoes and Sage Sauce

Ingredients:  4 skinless breasts of chicken;  12 pieces green asparagus, peeled;  4 slices Parma ham;  4 large potatoes;  Bunch sage;  100g unsalted butter;  1 glass white wine, dry;  50ml chicken stock, optional;  250ml double cream;  2 pieces thyme;  1 clove garlic;  100g breadcrumbs, brown or white;  2 eggs;  2 plum tomatoes;  Small onion;  100g plain flour;  Olive oil;  Sea salt to taste;  White milled pepper to taste

Method:  Cook asparagus in boiling, salted water for 1 minute, plunge into ice water and dry.  Beat out chicken breast into rectangular shape (the easiest way is to put in between cling film).  Cut the asparagus in half, wrap in Parma ham and place in the centre of chicken.  Fold the chicken over the ends of the asparagus and roll into a cigar shape.

Arrange three dishes, one with seasoned flour, one with beaten egg and a little water, one with breadcrumbs.  Roll the chicken in the flour with one hand (your dry hand), then using the other hand (your wet hand), dip in the eggs, then back to your dry hand for the breadcrumbs.

Top and tail the potato then cut with a 1 inch high x 2.5 inch diameter pastry cutter.  Season the potato then brown in a pan on both sides.  Place in an ovenware dish with the butter, thyme and garlic and bake for 45 minutes at 160C.

Reduce the cream. wine and stock with the sage stalks and chopped onion until it coats a spoon.  Sieve the sauce and add strips of sage. Lightly brown the chicken all over in a hot frying pan then bake for 7-8 minutes at 170C. Peel, deseed and dice tomato.

Cut the chicken in half, rest on potato topped with tomato, surround with sauce - no need for any messing around with veg as it's in the chicken!

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