Chicken marsala is one of those Italian American dishes that seems to be a standard in many a home cook’s repertoire. It consists of flour-coated thin chicken breast cutlets, cooked with a Marsala wine reduction and usually mushrooms as well. This recipe for chicken marsala is one of my father’s favorites. It doesn’t use mushrooms, though you could certainly include them, and gets much of its flavor from pancetta, an Italian version of bacon, that is salt-cured not smoked. It takes all of maybe 30 minutes to prepare, so it’s perfect for a midweek dinner. Dad sometimes substitutes bacon for the pancetta (gasp!); according to him, “one can’t live on pancetta alone.” And he sometimes switches out the Marsala for dry vermouth.
- Olive oil
- 2 oz pancetta (about a 1/4 inch thick slice), cut into 1/4 inch cubes
- 1/2 medium onion, diced (or you can use chopped shallots)
- Flour for dredging (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 lb of skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut or pounded into thin cutlets
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup dry Marsala wine
- 6 Tbsp heavy cream
- Minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 Coat a large skillet lightly with olive oil and set it over medium high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until just crip and lightly browned. Remove with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pan, and set aside. Add the onions to the pan and cook until translucent and slightly browned, 5-10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pan, and set aside.
2 Put the flour on a plate. Pat the cutlets dry. Season them on both sides lightly with salt and amply with pepper. Heat the skillet with the pancetta fat over medium high. Add more olive oil, if needed, to get about 2 Tbsp of fat in the pan.
3 When the fat is hot, dredge a cutlet through the flour on both sides. Shake off the excess flour and immediately put the cutlet in the pan. Do the same with as many cutlets as will fit in the pan without touching. Sauté the cutlets, turning once, until browned on both sides. If thin, they should cook through in just a few minutes total. Transfer the cooked cutlets to a plate and continue sauteíng the rest, adding more oil if necessary. Transfer these to the plate as well.
4 Pour off the excess fat. With the pan over med-high heat, add the Marsala and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the Marsala is reduced by about a quarter. Stir in the cream and boil until you get a nicely thickened sauce. Return the chicken, onions, and pancetta to the pan and turn the cutlets over to coat. Let them reheat for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Serve with the sauce and a sprinkling of parsley.