Food: What’s in a name? Deliciousness

Kate Lawson
The Detroit News

Years ago, while driving my stepson home from preschool, I was asked what was for dinner. Without hesitation I answered, “chicken legs.” I can still recall his look of horror as he tried to process eating a poor scrawny yellow chicken leg, complete with talons for toes.

“Oh, I mean drumsticks, you know, with your favorite mashed potatoes and some corn?” I quickly corrected myself. I could almost hear him sigh “whew” from the backseat.

Which leads me to consider that what we call dishes can affect our first reaction to them. “Berry slump” comes to mind, which is positively delicious, but stuck with an unfortunate name. “Headcheese” is another, but really, that’s a description that’s as apt as ever and definitely an acquired taste (no, thanks). Some people turn up their nose at “mush,” but serve them “polenta” and they’ll swoon. (I adore both and grits, if you will.)

I’ve also found that when I use a French term for whatever I’m serving — “boeuf bourguignonne” for example — rather than “beef stew” or “crepe” for “pancake,” that I get a more enthusiastic response.

So, with that in mind, I decided to call this dish of stuffed chicken breasts with prosciutto and cheese “Capon Roulades with Prosciutto di Parma and Fromage.” Or maybe I’ll just keep it real and call it what it is: delicious.

Kate Lawson is a retired food editor of The Detroit News. You can reach her at

Stuffed Chicken with Prosciutto and Cheese and Mushroom Sauce

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

8 thin slices prosciutto

8 thin slices fontina cheese (or provolone or havarti)

16 fresh basil leaves

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

4 cups mixed mushrooms, chopped

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons mixed chopped fresh herbs (such as basil, parsley, and chives)

Halve chicken breasts horizontally, keeping 1 long side attached; open halves like a book. Pound breasts until 1/4-inch thick. Season on all sides with salt and pepper.

Place 1 chicken breast on a work surface, cut side up. Overlap 2 slices prosciutto on top of chicken, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Top prosciutto with 2 slices cheese; layer 4 basil leaves over cheese, maintaining 1/2-inch border. Roll up chicken lengthwise and tie with kitchen twine. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and oil in a large heavy ovenproof skillet. Add chicken and cook until browned on all sides, 8-10 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of chicken registers 165 degrees, 7-8 minutes. (The chicken will be cooked through, but still juicy.) Transfer chicken to plates and let rest for 10 minutes.

Scrape drippings and any melted cheese from skillet; discard. Set skillet over medium-high heat and melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add mushrooms. Cook, turning once, until mushrooms are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; add broth and vinegar. Simmer until liquid is thickened and reduced, 10-12 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter and herbs; season with salt and pepper.

Cut off and discard twine. Cut chicken into 1/2-inch slices. Drizzle mushroom sauce over. Serves 4.

Per serving: 630 calories; 35 g fat (17 g saturated fat; 50 percent calories from fat); 4 g carbohydrates; 3 g sugar; 237 mg cholesterol; 1,330 mg sodium; 73 g protein; 1 g fiber.