Chicken Marsala is a classic Italian American dish that sounds fancy and is perfect for a dinner party, but believe it or not, chicken Marsala is also easy enough to make for a midweek meal.
Traditionally, chicken Marsala is chicken cutlets dredged in flour and fried, served with a sauce made with a Marsala reduction. It often includes mushrooms.
Chicken Marsala Special Ingredient: Pancetta
This recipe for chicken marsala is a favorite of my father’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 Chicken Marsala 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
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 ounces 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 pound of skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut or pounded into thin cutlets
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup dry Marsala wine
- 6 tablespoons heavy cream
- Minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 Cook the pancetta: 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.
2 Cook the onions or shallots: 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 any remaining fat in the pan. Add the onions to the cooked pancetta and set aside.
3 Prepare chicken for dredging: 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.
4 Dredge and cook the chicken: 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.
5 Make the sauce: 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.
6 Coat chicken cutlets in sauce: 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.