Chicken Marsala with Pancetta and Cream

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Chicken marsala is a classic Italian American dish that sounds fancy, and is perfect for a dinner party, but is also easy enough to make for a midweek meal. Traditionally it’s chicken cutlets dredged in flour and fried, served with a sauce made with a Marsala reduction. It often includes mushrooms.

This recipe for chicken marsala is a favorite of my dad’s and is adapted from one he found in Fine Cooking magazine years ago. It doesn’t have mushrooms (though you could easily add them), and gets tons of flavor from Italian pancetta. Pancetta is a lot like bacon (but better!); it’s the same cut, but salt cured, not smoked.

My father has been known to substitute bacon for the pancetta in this recipe, which also works, and is a little easier on the wallet. (According to him, “one can’t live on pancetta alone.”) He also sometimes switches out the Marsala for dry vermouth.

Chicken Marsala with Pancetta and Cream Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 3-4.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 oz pancetta (about one 1/4-inch thick slice), cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion (or shallots)
  • 1/2 cup flour for dredging
  • 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

Method

1 Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the diced pancetta and cook until lightly browned and crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pancetta, leaving the rendered fat in the pan. Add the onions or shallots and cook until translucent and lightly browned (5 to 10 minutes for onions, if using shallots lower the heat to medium and cook a minute or two). Remove the onions from the pan, leaving the fat in the pan. Add the onions to the cooked pancetta and set aside.

2 Put flour on a shallow plate for dredging. Pat the chicken cutlets dry and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the skillet on medium high heat. You should have about 2 tablespoons of fat in the pan from the pancetta, if not add more olive oil to the pan.

3 When the fat in the pan is hot (test it to make sure by sprinkling a tiny bit of flour in the pan, it should sizzle), dredge a chicken cutlet in the flour on both sides, shake off the excess and place in the hot pan. Continue with as many cutlets as can fit in the pan without crowding.

Sauté until just browned, on both sides. It should only take a minute or two. Cook all of the cutlets in the same way, adding more olive oil to the pan if necessary. Remove the cooked cutlets to a plate.

4 Pour off any excess fat. Add the Marsala to the hot pan to deglaze it, scraping up any browned bits. Let the Marsala boil away until it reduces by a quarter or a half and stir in the cream. Let boil until the sauce thickens.


5 Return the chicken cutlets, the pancetta and onions to the pan and turn to coat with the creamy Marsala sauce. Reheat for 1/2 a minute.

Serve the cutlets with the sauce and a little freshly chopped parsley.

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Adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine.

Links:

Pollo al Marsala from Bell'Alimento

Marsala from Ryan's Cafe - video and recipe from Chef John of Food Wishes

Chicken Marsala from She Wears Many Hats

Dinner Party Chicken Marsala from The Kitchn

Showing 4 of 45 Comments

  • Janice Adams

    After reading all these fantastic reviews on this dish I think ?I’ve got to try it, can you suggest what you would serve with it as I’ve got a family dinner to cook Sunday for 9 people thought I would try this dish.

  • Keri

    this was absolutely wonderful!

  • Eileen McDonald

    What an absolutely delicious Marsala chicken recipe! I’ve just made this tonight for dinner and have never cooked with Marsala wine before. It was easy to make and was a big hit with my family!

    I prefer this recipe over the regular Marsala Chicken recipes because it doesn’t call for mushrooms which is not a favorite in my family. The pancetta and onions simply put this recipe over the top! Thanks, Elise for sharing so we can enjoy making and eating this wonderful dish!!!

  • Deepa

    Hi Elise, I am new to your site and recently tried two of your recipes and loved it. I am not a big fan of cooking, but I found your recipes very simple and fast to make and delicious. I have a simple question. You use the “cup” as a measurement and I was wondering if you can clarify how much ml or gram a cup means in your recipes.
    Thanks.

    1 cup is approximately 236 ml. ~Elise

  • Anna

    I am not really good with recipes and I really want to try and make this but I need to know what kind of cream to use? I’m lost with the whole cream issue. Can anyone tell me a brand and name they use for this? Please! Thank you! :)

    Brands vary by location. Look for “heavy whipping cream” in the dairy section of your grocery store. ~Elise

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