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Who's Cooking: Michael Keany, Huntington

Michael Keany with his

Michael Keany with his "Chicken Pamela" dish. (March 18, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday / Danielle Finkelstein

A retired high school principal, he lives in Huntington and works as a private educational consultant.

When did you get interested in cooking? At my first administrative job I ran an adult education program in Manhasset. One of the students was a budding television chef.

You have a history as a creative host. When my wife was alive (she died in 2008) we enjoyed throwing elaborate themed dinners, -- a Roman meal, a Scottish New Year's celebration. Once, we did a "Last Night on the Titanic" dinner. I researched the menu that was served to the first-class passengers.

My kids, who were teenagers at the time, came in periodically with telegrams reporting on what was happening with the ship. Everyone had a passenger identity, and at the end of the evening we revealed who survived and who didn't.

When you were the principal of Manhasset High School, did you eat the cafeteria food? Yes! It was school food, but I enjoyed it. My cafeteria director at the time had a sense of humor, and she would advertise things like Surf and Turf, which would be a hot dog and a fish stick.

Do you think it's important for young people to learn how to cook? Cooking isn't an essential skill, but it's an enjoyable part of life and gives people great pleasure. You can make yourself very popular in a hurry if you're the one person in the dorm who knows how to cook.

Who is Pamela mentioned in this recipe? I am not permitted to tell you that. Let there be an air of mystery to the recipe!

 

Chicken Pamela

4 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (8 to 9 ounces each)

4 thin slices Prosciutto di Parma (2 to 3 ounces)

1 cup shredded fontina (3 ounces)

3/ cup flour

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

11/2 cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

4 teaspoons dried sage

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Trim, rinse and pat the breasts dry. With a sharp paring knife cut into each breast about 1/2 inch from one end. Create a pocket, slicing to within about 1/4 inch of the other side.

2. Lay a slice of prosciutto lengthwise inside each pocket. Stuff each pocket with ¼ of the fontina, distributing it evenly throughout the pocket and to the ends. Press on the top of each breast to close the pocket.

3. Line up three shallow dishes. Fill first with flour. In second, whisk together eggs and mustard. In third, toss breadcrumbs with dried sage, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

4. Season breasts generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge one breast well in flour, shaking off any excess. Dip into eggs, turning to coat evenly, and then dredge in breadcrumbs, pressing to make crumbs adhere evenly. Gently shake off any excess. Set on a plate and repeat with remaining breasts. Refrigerate for at least 5 minutes and up to 3 hours to let breading set.

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a heavy 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is very hot, carefully add two breasts to pan and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. If oil gets too hot, reduce heat to medium. Transfer breasts to a baking sheet. Repeat with other two breasts.

6. Bake until chicken and filling reach 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately. You can serve this dish with grilled baby asparagus, brushed with garlic olive oil and sprinkled with sesame seeds.Makes 4 servings.

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