Chicken and pancetta salad with crisp parsnip and saba dressing

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This is a perfect light salad for lunch. Buy the best organic chicken you can find. You can prepare the chicken beforehand and put the salad together at the last minute. Saba is a syrup made from cooked grape must and adds an underlying richness and complexity to the dressing.

Chicken pancetta salad.
Chicken pancetta salad.


2 chicken breasts, skin removed

1 tsp salt flakes

2 cloves garlic

5 sprigs thyme

5 peppercorns

10 strips flat pancetta, finely sliced

2 large parsnips

Extra virgin olive oil


50ml saba (available from good delis)

Freshly ground black pepper

2 corella pears, cored and sliced

2 handfuls rocket leaves

2 handfuls watercress, picked

1/4 bunch Italian parsley, leaves picked and torn

1/4 red onion, sliced

60g toasted walnuts, tossed in a little oil, seasoned with salt


Separate the fillet from the tenderloin and cut fillet into three long strips, giving you four pieces per breast.

In a mortar and pestle, smash the salt flakes, garlic, thyme and peppercorns, pounding hard until you have a paste. Then dry rub this all over the chicken.

Roll each strip of chicken up in a piece of pancetta, press flat and set aside in the fridge.

Peel the parsnips, discarding the outer peel. Continue peeling the flesh to end up with long, thin ribbons.

Place a large frying pan over high heat and add a good splash of oil. Add a handful of the parsnip ribbons, fry quickly until light brown and drain on paper towel. Continue with the remaining parsnip. Season with salt, repeat until all ribbons are fried — they will crisp as they cool. Set aside.

Combine saba with a splash of extra-virgin oil, salt and pepper in a bowl, adjust dressing to taste. Toss the pear slices in dressing so all are coated.

Wipe out frying pan and place over a high heat. Add a splash of oil, then sear the chicken. Cook for two minutes until golden brown, pressing down on each piece as it cooks, then flip over and cook for another two minutes until crisp.

Place some rocket, watercress, parsley, dressed pear slices and a little onion on the platter. Top with the chicken, a few more leaves and slices of pear. Pour over the dressing and top with parsnip chips and scattered walnuts.

Drink: Dolcetto.

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  • Main Ingredients - Chicken, Parsnip, Pear
  • Course - Main-course


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