The Valle d'Aosta, is a small region in the far Northwest of Italy, in the western Alps between Switzerland and France. This recipe is loosely based on a 2001 "Petto di Pollo alla Valdostana con Lenticchie Brasate" recipe published by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich.

  • Preparation & cooking time: 90 minutes
  • Makes 4 servings.


  • Ingredients for the chicken dish:
  • 4 chicken breasts filets, about 200 grams each (7 oz))
  • 8 thin slices of prosciutto - enough to entirely cover one side of the chicken breasts after pounding them
  • 8 slices of cheese (e.g., Gruyere) - enough to entirely cover one side of the chicken breasts after pounding them
  • 4 tablespoons of  tomato paste (1 small can or a tube of paste)
  • Several tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • Butter and olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

  • Ingredients for the lentil dish:
  • 200 grams (1 cup) of lentils
  • I prefer the small green round "French" lentils
  • 500 grams (1 lb) of frozen, coarsely chopped spinach, thawed out and very well drained
  • You will probably have to do quite a bit of squeezing to get most of the water out (about half the weight) - frozen spinach is mostly water....
  • Do not use finely chopped or "creamed" spinach!
  • 2 medium sized yellow onions, cleaned and diced (about 300 grams, 10 oz)
  • 2 medium sized carrots, cleaned and diced (about 200 grams, 7 oz.)
  • 1 celery stalk, the stringy fibrous "ribs" pulled off with a sharp knife (this is very easy - if the stalk is fresh and hard)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil (dried is OK)
  • 1/2 cube of beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon course-ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon (fresh) ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper


  • Large sauce pan/pot
  • Small sauce pan, preferably with a heavy bottom
  • Large frying pan with lid
  • I prefer a clear glass lid, so I can see what is going on in the pan


  • Instructions for the lentil dish:
  • Sweat the unions in some olive oil or butter
  • Put the lentils, carrots, celery, and bay leaves in a large sauce pan
  • Add enough water to cover the lentils by 6-10 cm (2-4 inch)
  • Add salt and half a bouillon cube
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a slow simmer LID ON
  • Cook until the lentils are almost tender ("al dente"), 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Add water if the lentils begin to turn dry before they are done!!!
  • Remove from heat, drain well, and remove the bay leaves
  • Fold in the basil, garlic, onions, and spinach
  • Season with pepper, salt, nutmeg, cayenne, garlic, and mustard
  • Transfer to a skillet or large frying pan, and add some olive oil
  • Put aside and prepare the chicken dish
  • Put the skillet back on the stove, and heat up while stirring regularly

  • Instructions for the chicken dish:
  • Prepare the lentil dish, except for the last step
  • Clean the chicken breasts: remove all fat, tendons, sinews, membranes.
  • Remove the tenders; they can be treated like the breast meat.
  • Season the pieces very lightly with salt
  • Cover one side of each breast filet with a slice of prosciutto; trim, so not too much sticks out
  • Put the breasts on a sheet of plastic kitchen film (wrap), prosciutto side up, and cover with kitchen wrap
  • Pound the prosciutto into the chicken with your fist or the bottom of a small sauce pan
  • Remove the plastic film
  • Dredge the chicken breasts in flour to coat them lightly, then tap off any excess flour
  • Pre-heat the oven to 175 °C (350 °F)
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet or frying pan that is large enough for all the meat
  • Place the pieces of meat in the skillet, prosciutto side down and cook until lightly brown (do not overcook the prosciutto, as it will become tough), approximately 2 minutes; then turn over and brown the other side (about 3 minutes); make sure the chicken is cooked through
  • Turn over the pieces (prosciutto side down again), and spread a thin layer of tomato paste over the top of each piece
  • Season with fresh ground pepper
  • Completely cover the pieces with the slices of cheese; trim, so not too much sticks out
  • If the skillet or frying pan is oven-proof, put it in the oven under the broiler until the cheese bubbles and begins to turn brown (1-2 minutes; do not walk away)
  • If the skillet is not oven-proof, then transfer the pieces to a baking sheet and broil them.

Chicken valdosta

The chicken filets getting pan-fried and a double batch of the lentil dish

Chicken valdosta

The cheese-covered chicken filets - before & after broiling


  • Serve chicken and lentils immediately on heated plates

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©2002-2016 F. Dörenberg, unless stated otherwise. All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this publication may be used without permission from the author.