The word roulade is actually a French word that refers to something that is rolled. Imagine that! ;)
However, it’s not exclusively French. Many countries around the world have their own version of a roulade that’s unique to their cuisine; the one I grew up eating at my grandmother’s house was a German rouladen, which I never cared for very much. I guess something about the combination of rolled beef, mustard, onions, and pickles (even though I love them just about any other way) just doesn’t do it for me in that case.
Instead, this recipe is more along the lines of an Italian roulade, in that it uses chicken and a filling made of sundried tomato basil pesto… delizioso! Yes, I love Italian food. But who doesn’t?!
To make a roulade, you really need a flat-sided meat mallet (or something equally sturdy and dense). Pounding out the chicken to a thin but even thickness is the key to being able to roll up the meat easily. Don’t use the side with the prickly spikes, or else you will end up with chicken juice everywhere and a grossly mushy piece of meat.
After that, it’s just a matter of getting your filling spread out on one side of the breast before the rolling can commence. Just make you don’t spread it on too thick, or else the rolling part will become a nightmare as it all oozes out. Yuck. Also, and for the same reason, you might want to leave some room around the edges of the breast.
Traditional roulades are secured in place with either kitchen twine or toothpicks. Since these chicken roulades are small, I just used toothpicks and it worked out just fine. The twine is really only necessary with larger cuts of meat.
Sprinkle them with a bit of black pepper and a coarser brand of almond flour, in order to add some texture, color, and a flavor accent to the outsides of the roulades.
Browning them in the pan with the toothpicks was a little bit tricky, but definitely still manageable. You just have to prop them up against each other, or against the sides of the pan. (If you don’t want to worry about this part, then go ahead and use the kitchen twine.)
The last step is a quick bake in the oven, so that the chicken cooks all the way through. After that, you let them rest for a few minutes, slice, and serve!
The sundried tomato basil pesto inside of them is so incredibly creamy and flavorful all on its own that the chicken doesn’t even require seasoning, beyond the bit of black pepper that’s used during preparation. And as far as side-dish pairings go, these roulades would go wonderfully with a side salad or a pile of steamed or roasted green veggies!
Also, the technique of this dish makes it pretty fancy-looking when it’s done, so you could totally impress house guests or your in-laws with your incredible culinary abilities! And if you’re just cooking it for yourself or your family, I hope you enjoy the savory flavor of these chicken roulades as much as I did. :)
Share your thoughts… what other kinds of roulades are your favorites?
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Place the chicken breasts between 2 pieces of plastic wrap (or in a large Ziploc bag) on a sturdy cutting board. Use the flat side of a meat mallet to pound the chicken evenly flat, approximately ⅛” thick.
- Evenly spread about 2 tbsp of Sundried Tomato Basil Pesto onto one side of each chicken breast. Aim for a decent layer of pesto, but not super thick or else it won’t roll up very easily.
- Starting on one of the smaller ends, carefully roll up each chicken breast and secure in place with 3 to 4 toothpicks (or kitchen twine, whichever you prefer).
- Sprinkle the tops and bottoms of the chicken breast rolls with the ground black pepper and almond meal/flour.
- Heat 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil in a large nonstick skillet. Brown all sides of the chicken breast rolls, approximately 2 minutes per side (for a total of 8 minutes for four sides).
- Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 5 to 7 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer reads 160 degrees F in the thickest part of the roulade.
- Let roulades rest for about 3 to 4 minutes before serving. If the pesto you used is not very salty, you may want to season to taste with a bit of sea salt.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
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