Monday, July 12, 2010

Suturing dinner—herbed ricotta chicken roulades

Still alive!  I’m a week and a half into it all.  Seems like a lot longer.  I feel like I know a whole lot more than I did just a week ago and that each day gets a bit more manageable.  Even so, as more straightforward patients seem easier, I am given more responsibility with more complicated patients.  I’m learning how to rule out ectopic pregnancies, diagnose all kinds of infections, and how to do endometrial biopsies.  I have become the queen of speculum exams; I even found somebody’s cervix in the dark as the exam room had no light besides the overhead lamp.

Along with responsibilities in the hospital on the job, we are required, thankfully, to perfect our surgical skills outside of the operating room.   We have a test in September on our knot tying and suturing (a fancy word for sewing).  Even though I grew up sewing, I definitely did not do so on a curved needle.  When you suture in the operating room, you hold the needle with a tool called a needle driver, which pushes the needle through the tissue.  I can do it, but I’m awfully slow.

Along with practicing in our surgical skills lab, I brought home some suture from the hospital to practice at home.  What better way to practice sewing flesh than on dinner?  Sewing meat simulates the operating environment a lot more accurately than the dry toys that we practice on.  Besides, when you make a lovely roulade, it keeps everything together really nicely—much better than interrupted knots. 

So for dinner tonight I made herbed ricotta and tomato stuffed chicken breast roulades with a yummy zucchini orzo on the side.  The only problem was that the suture was flesh colored and thus was difficult to find in the chicken.  I might have swallowed a knot.  If you don’t have suture and a needle driver you could use regular needle and thread, or just use toothpicks or kitchen string to tie it up.  If you are like me and trying to get better at sewing, this is a delicious way to improve.

 Herbed Ricotta and Tomato Chicken Roulades

3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
½ cup all purpose flour
15 oz reduced fat ricotta
½ tsp fresh rosemary
2 tbsp fresh parsley
2-3 tbsp fresh basil
3 cloves garlic
½ shallot
¼ cup parmesan cheese grated
2 tomatoes thinly sliced
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
~1 cup white wine
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Cut chicken breasts in half horizontally and pound down until about 1/8-1/4 inch thick.  Dredge in salted and pepper flour.  Chop herbs, shallot and garlic finely, mix in with ricotta.   Add parmesan, salt, pepper and a splash of olive oil to ricotta mixture.  With each breast, spread a thin layer of cheese and a few slices of tomato.  Roll up widthwise and sew or tie up.  Preheat large skillet or dutch over over medium high heat.  Add olive oil and butter and sear chicken breasts for 3-4 minutes.  Add white wine to cover breasts about half way up, cover and reduce heat to medium low.  Cook until chicken cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Remove chicken from pan, add another tsp or so of salt to the sauce, add balsamic vinegar.  Turn heat up to medium high and cook sauce until reduced by about 50%.  Strain and serve with chicken.

Lemony Zucchini Orzo

½ lb orzo pasta
1 medium sized zucchini, grated
2 cloves garlic finely diced
1 medium shallot finely diced
Juice of one lemon
Splash of white wine
Salt and pepper
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

Cook orzo in salted water according to instructions.  Over medium high heat in about 2 tbsp olive oil, sauté garlic, shallot and zucchini until zucchini cooked through about 5 minutes.  Turn heat off, add orzo, white wine, lemon juice, pepper and cheese.  Stir to combine and serve. 


  1. Wait, your recipe doesn't specify type or size of suture for the roulades.

  2. I came across your blog via Grand Rounds, and it's making me hungry. I love the idea of suturing dinner, as I need to practice too. What kind of suture did you use? Did you remove it as you went, or before serving?

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  4. I love it! That is hilarious! When I start needing practice in suturing for midwifery school, I am definitely going to come back to this recipe!