A sophisticated dish fit for a dinner party

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Deborah S. Hartz-Seeley

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.Ned Jawhar, 31, is a focused young man. We learn this when we cook alongside him at Cielo by Angela Hartnett in the Boca Raton Resort. He’s invited us to watch him prepare Prosciutto-Wrapped Stuffed Chicken Legs Over Lyonnaise Cabbage With Port Wine Reduction.

It’s the perfect dish for entertaining at a time
like Christmas. It’s easy to prepare ahead and finish at the last
minute, it can be served warm or at room temperature, and it works for
a plated meal or on a buffet. What’s more, the dish with its Port Wine
Reduction and Lyonnaise Cabbage sports festive green and red colors.

To prepare this dish for us, Jawhar works quietly
and very cleanly. “If you have any questions, just ask. I tend not to
talk much when I work,” he says.

He also explains that he likes a quiet kitchen. “No
music, no banging pan lids,” he says, regularly wiping his cutting
board with a blue cloth dipped into water in a small green pail.

His every movement is precise and focused. “I use
one hand to get into the wet side of a recipe, and the other I keep dry
to touch the handle of a knife or open a drawer. That way things don’t
get messy,” he says as he bones a chicken leg with surgical precision.

The chicken legs he usually uses are the high-quality, air-chilled variety raised in Canada.
And they tend to be quite small. So for today’s demonstration, we are
using more easily found chicken legs from the supermarket. He marvels
at their size.

The recipe he prepares for us step-by-step is like
all his food, “simplistic but labor intensive and sophisticated.
There’s a lot of thought behind everything I do,” he says. And a lot of
tasting. The chef always has a clean spoon at the ready so he can taste
a sauce or stir a pot.

He does both for these mousse-stuffed chicken legs
that are wrapped in prosciutto and poached ahead of time so at the last
minute they can be browned in a skillet and sliced for serving.

Time in the skillet reheats the chicken and crisps
the prosciutto on the outside. The chef slices the rolls crosswise into
attractive pieces and serves them over savoy cabbage tossed with
beautifully browned onions flavored with bacon, grainy mustard and
sherry vinegar to create an impressive entree. The final fillip is a
drizzle of Port Wine Reduction.

Yes, this recipe has many steps, but none is
difficult. And, along the way you will learn some very useful
techniques — caramelizing onions, boning a chicken leg, making a savory
mousse — that will serve you well for a lifetime of cooking. Each of
these techniques can be used to create an array of dishes.

You will also see how Jawhar works to blend fine
ingredients (think truffle oil made with Italian white truffles and
bacon smoked over apple wood).

“The main component of my dishes is the
ingredients,” Jawhar says. “They have to star. You buy good ingredients
and let them shine. Let their natural flavors come through.”

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PROSCIUTTO-WRAPPED STUFFED CHICKEN LEGS OVER LYONNAISE CABBAGE WITH PORT WINE REDUCTION

This recipe requires skinless, boneless chicken legs. Learn to bone your own with photos at far right.

4 skinless, boned chicken legs

8 nicely shaped good-quality prosciutto slices (See Note.)

Salt and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste

Chicken Mousse (in a plastic bag for piping; recipe given)

2 tablespoons olive oil

Port Wine Reduction (recipe given)

Lyonnaise Cabbage (recipe given)

Place a large piece of plastic wrap on a cutting
board. Spray lightly with no-stick cooking spray. Place a chicken leg
on the plastic wrap. Fold the plastic wrap over it to cover. Pound with
a meat mallet or other heavy object until about 1/4-inch thick. Repeat
with remaining chicken legs.

Place a piece of plastic wrap on a work surface (we
used a piece of heavy-duty high-quality plastic wrap that measured 24
by 12 inches). Place the wrap on the counter with the long edge toward
you. On the wrap, lay two slices of prosciutto side by side with the
long edges overlapping about 1/8 inch and the short ends of the
prosciutto toward you. Lay one boned chicken leg flat on the prosciutto
even with the short ends that are near you. Sprinkle the chicken with
salt and pepper.

Take plastic bag of mousse from refrigerator. Cut
about 1/4-inch on the diagonal off one bottom corner of the bag.
Squeeze the mousse out of the bag down the center of the chicken leg.

Starting at the short end of the prosciutto slices
nearest you, lift the prosciutto and the chicken leg meat up over the
mousse using the plastic wrap to help you. Tightly roll the prosciutto
and leg around the mousse. Twist one end of the plastic wrap and roll
the cylinder of stuffed chicken leg back and forth on the counter to
shape and remove air from the package. Tie the twisted end in a loop to
seal the leg inside the wrap so it looks like a sausage link. Twist the
other end of the plastic wrap and tie in a loop. You can double tie the
ends using twisted strips of plastic wrap as ties.

Repeat with other chicken legs using all the mousse until all the chicken legs are stuffed and wrapped.

Wrap each package tightly in aluminum foil twisting
the ends so the package looks like a firecracker and then folding the
ends in on themselves to seal firmly. Repeat until all the packages are
wrapped in foil.

Heat a large deep skillet or pot with about5 inches
water. Bring water to 165 degrees measured on a quick-read thermometer.
Add the aluminum-foil packages and simmer 30 minutes, carefully
monitoring the water temperature and regulating the heat to keep it at
165 degrees.

When the time is up, measure the temperature of the
interior of one package by inserting an instant-read thermometer into
the center. It should register 165 degrees. If it doesn’t, re-wrap that
package in a layer of plastic wrap and foil so it is watertight and
continue to simmer the packages in 165-degree water until cooked
through.

(If not serving the cooked packages immediately,
place them in ice water to chill and stop cooking. Then refrigerate up
to two days or you can proceed with the recipe and serve immediately.)

To finish: Unwrap the chicken packages and dry the rolls with paper towels.

In a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat
olive oil. Add the packages and cook, spooning the oil over the
packages and turning them until brown and crisp.

Remove from pan and let sit about 3 minutes. Then slice crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices.

Drizzle the wine reduction on 4 plates in a
decorative pattern. Place a serving of cabbage in the center of each
plate. Top it with the slices of a chicken leg.

(If using packages that have been refrigerated,
remove them from the refrigerator about30 minutes before finishing.
Then brown in an ovenproof skillet in oil and 3 tablespoons butter.
Once the outside is browned and the prosciutto is crisp, place in a
350-degree oven until they are heated through.

Chef’s tip: You can tell they are heated through by
inserting the tip of a sharp knife into the center. Remove the blade
and place it on your upper lip. If it feels warm, the rolls are warm
through. Continue with slicing and plating.) Makes 4 servings.

PORT WINE REDUCTION

2 cups dry red wine

1 cup red port

Combine wine and port in a nonreactive saucepan.
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to gentle boil and
cook 30 minutes until syrupy in consistency. Makes 1/4 cup.

Per (1-tablespoon) serving (due to the long
reduction of this sauce, our dietitian is unable to present an accurate
nutrition analysis; this is her best estimate): 9 calories, no fat, no
cholesterol, .6 gram carbohydrates, no fiber, .3 gram total sugars, .6
gram net carbs, no protein, .6 milligram sodium.

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LYONNAISE CABBAGE

Water

Salt, to taste

8 cups julienned green leaves of savoy cabbage (See note.)

2 slices thick-cut apple-wood smoked bacon, chopped

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided

1 Spanish onion, julienned

1 clove garlic, smashed

1 sprig fresh thyme

Fresh-ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 teaspoon coarse-grained mustard

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add salt. Add
julienned cabbage to the water and cook2 minutes until tender crisp.
Drain and place in ice water to stop cooking; drain and set aside.

In a large skillet (do not use nonstick) over medium
heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Add the oil and 1 tablespoon butter
to the pan over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and thyme; saute
until pan begins to look dry and you hear a sizzle.

Add about 3 tablespoons water, stir to remove any
browned bits from the bottom of the pan and continue to cook until pan
looks dry again (for more on Caramelizing Onions, see page 8). You’ll
be able to see brown forming on the bottom of the pan. Add another 3
tablespoons water and continue to cook. Continue the process about15
minutes until the onions are beautifully golden.

Add the cabbage to the pan. Season with salt,
pepper, mustard and vinegar. Stir in 2 tablespoons butter until melted.
Remove the thyme and the garlic before serving. Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 118 calories, 53 percent calories from
fat, 7 grams total fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 12 milligrams
cholesterol, 12 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams total fiber, 5 grams total
sugars, 7 grams net carbs, 5 grams protein, 141 milligrams sodium.

Note: To trim cabbage: Remove the tough outer leaves
of the cabbage; discard. You want to use the inner very dark green
leaves so you get the best color. Cut out the thick stem that runs
through the center of each leaf and discard it. Pile two or three
leaves at a time and cut them into fine strips. Reserve the inner core
of white leaves for another use.

CHICKEN MOUSSE

This makes a very small quantity of mousse that may
be difficult to prepare if your food processor is very large. In that
case, you might want to double the recipe.

4 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped

Kosher salt, to taste

1/2 cup chilled heavy cream

1 1/2 tablespoons fine-minced pistachios

1 1/2 tablespoons fine-minced Italian parsley

1/8 teaspoon truffle oil (See note)

Place the metal blade of a food processor in the
freezer to chill it. Place the chopped chicken and salt in a food
processor. Fit it with the chilled metal blade. Process until chicken
is smooth and light (this is a small quantity of chicken so you may
have to frequently push it toward the blade with a rubber spatula).
With the machine running, gradually add the chilled cream through the
feed tube and process until fluffy.

Use a rubber spatula to press the mixture through a
strainer into a metal bowl set in another larger metal bowl filled with
ice and a little water. Spread out the mousse in the bowl with a rubber
spatula so it comes in contact with the cold bowl and chills quickly.
Add the nuts, parsley and truffle oil using the rubber spatula to
incorporate them into the mousse.

Place mousse in a snack-size plastic bag; seal bag
and refrigerate until ready to use. (Mousse can be made up to 2 days in
advance and kept cold.) Makes 1/2 cup.

Per serving: 94 calories, 73 percent calories from
fat, 8 grams total fat, 4 grams saturated fat, 33 milligrams
cholesterol, 1 gram carbohydrates, .4 gram total fiber, .3 gram total
sugars, 1 gram net carbs, 5 grams protein, 17 milligrams sodium.

(Note: Available at supermarkets and gourmet stores.)

Deborah S. Hartz-Seeley writes for the Sun-Sentinel. Via McClatchy-Tribune News Service.