Stuffed Chicken Roll-up

We actually dined on this in March, shortly after my dad returned to Guam and we found we still had ground chicken in the freezer. We don’t usually buy ground chicken, but it was the best meat alternative for his gout maintenance diet. I wanted to make something a little different than the meatloaf or meatball alternatives running through my head. We also had some beautiful asparagus and a large quantity of caponata newly made. Instead of adding it all into a loaf, what if we rolled it into the center of a meat casing. How would they go together?

Pretty well, actually. Although the roll did not hold its shape as well as it might have with ground beef or pork, the flavors melded well. The lightly seasoned chicken and fresh asparagus absorbed the salty play of flavors in the eggplant relish. Served over a bed of polenta-style grits with oyster mushrooms, it was a colorful and satisfying meal. I used a lot more caponata than I would have liked (less for me to snack on), but I didn’t begrudge the loss of my favorite appetizer (too much).

For the ground meat mixture:
1.5 lb ground chicken (or beef, pork)
sea salt to taste
ground black pepper
1/2 medium onion, diced fine
1 medium egg (optional — if I made this with ground chicken again, I would omit the egg so the roll might keep its shape better)

Combine all ingredients well. Chill until needed.

To Finish:
4-6 spears of asparagus (depending on width of spears)
1-1/2 cups prepared Caponata (recipe)

On a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap (about 16″ long), form meat mixture into a rectangle, about 12″ long and 6″ wide.

Add layer of caponata to within 1/2-inch of the long side closest to you and 2″ from the far end. Lay asparagus spears side-by-side over caponata.

Using the paper/plastic wrap as a guide, begin to roll the meat over the filling, jelly roll or sushi style. When completely enclosed, twist ends of plastic/wax closed and tuck under. Place roll on cookie sheet and leave in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 400F/200C.

Lightly oil a baking sheet, and place chilled meat roll on sheet. Drizzle olive oil over loaf, if using chicken. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn heat down to 350F/180C and continue baking for 20 more minutes. Allow to cool on the sheet for 15 minutes. Using a wide fish slice/spatula, remove roll to cutting board and slice on the diagonal.

Serve with mashed potatoes, polenta or pasta.