Pionono de Pollo y Palmitos | Chicken Salad Roll with Hearts of Palm

Pionono de Pollo y Palmitos | Chicken Salad Roll with Hearts of Palm by katiemetz, on Flickr

The pionono, a thin sponge cake filled with either sweet or savory ingredients and rolled up jelly roll-style, constitutes an Argentine classic. Piononos (also called arrollados) frequently appear with a healthy dose of dulce de leche inside, but savory jelly rolls or roulades have their place here too, particularly around the holidays when scorching summer temperatures beg for cold items to be served at dinner. In fact, with a high temperature of 86ºF here on the coast on Christmas Eve (and no air conditioning to cut through the heat and humidity), I was reminded of the idiocy of preparing roasted meats in summertime as my turkey sizzled and browned in the oven. Score one point for a northern-hemisphere Navidad.

Here in Argentina, piononos are so popular year-round that the pre-made sponge cakes can be easily found at any supermarket, ready to be filled and rolled. If you can get your hands on a store-bought pionono, you'll save yourself a few extra steps, but honestly, the sponge cake isn't that difficult to make and the taste of homemade is vastly superior.

I served a chicken salad pionono with hearts of palm for my Argentine family on Nochebuena, and it was a big hit. The hearts of palm and celery provide textural contrast and the chives and pimentos offer up a bit of color and extra flavor. With the light sweetness of the sponge cake and the chicken salad, I think this pionono would make an excellent brunch item as well.

Pionono de pollo y palmitos | Chicken Salad Roll with Hearts of Palm
Serves 8 to 10 as appetizer

Ingredients

For the pionono:

4 large eggs
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted
butter, to grease the pan
powdered sugar, for dusting

equipment: 15" x 11" x 1" jelly roll pan

For the chicken salad filling:

3 split chicken breasts (bone-in, skin-on)
poaching liquid: 1 stalk celery, 1 carrot, ½ onion, 1 sprig of tarragon, a few sprigs of parsley, 1 bay leaf, ¼ teaspoon whole peppercorns, and 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

1 cup (most of a 14-oz. can) chopped hearts of palm
½ cup chopped celery
1 (4-0z.) jar pimento peppers, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
mayonnaise, as needed
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

optional garnish: sliced hearts of palm, chopped pimento peppers, parsley leaves and mayonnaise

Directions

For the pionono:

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Grease the jelly roll pan with butter. Line with parchment paper; grease the parchment with butter.

Using a mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, honey and salt on high speed until you obtain a thick, pale yellow mixture, about 8 to 10 minutes. Carefully fold in the flour until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and spread gently and evenly with a spatula. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown and springy to the touch.

Run a knife around the sides of the cake. Invert onto a dish towel dusted with powdered sugar, and slowly remove the parchment. Roll the cake up in the towel, starting at a short side. Let cool for 1 hour, seam side down, on a wire rack.

For the chicken salad filling:

Add water, celery, carrot, onion, tarragon, parsley, bay leaf, peppercorns, and salt to a large pot, and bring to a boil. Add the chicken breasts, and lower heat to a bare simmer. Skim off any foam that rises. Simmer for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through (cut a breast in half to check for doneness.) Once cool, discard the skin and bones, and finely shred the chicken with two forks or using your hands.

In a large bowl, add the shredded chicken, hearts of palm, celery, pimentos, chives and enough mayonnaise to bind the ingredients together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Assembly:

Unroll the cooled pionono, and spread with filling, leaving about a ½-inch border on the sides. Beginning on a short side, carefully roll up the pionono and place it seam side down on a platter. Slice off the end pieces with a serrated knife to neaten up the appearance. Garnish as desired and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Savory Jelly Roll Cake from Argentina: The Pionono by katiemetz, on Flickr


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