Chef Juje

A messy adventure in learning to cook

Archive for the month “February, 2012”

Fancy Fridays – Chicken Marsala with Cream and Pancetta

I’ve made chicken marsala before in an attempt to debut my newly developed pan-frying skills. It basically involves pan-frying chicken breasts and creating a marsala-wine pan sauce.   Tasty and simple enough.

This time around, I tried a new recipe that involves dredging the chicken in flour and includes pancetta (fancier Italian bacon) as well as heavy cream in the sauce.  My sauce was much more brown than I had anticipated, but it’s still delicious.  Rich but not overwhelmingly so.  I served with pepperjack potatoes (also from Simply Recipes) to add a spicy kick to the meal.

I’ve included a ton of helpful hints following the recipe – partly to help me remember what works and partly, I hope, to help those new to cooking succeed as well.  Enjoy!

{editor’s note – I originally spelled “flour” as “flower.” THE HORROR!}


  • Grapeseed or olive oil (I used grapeseed due to its high smoke point)
  • 1 3 oz package of pancetta 1/4 inch squares
  • 1 chopped shallot (or 1/2 cup onion)
  • 1/2 cup flour for dredging
  • 1 lb of skinless, boneless chicken breasts – cut these or pound so that you have thin cutlets
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup dry Marsala wine
  • 6 tbsp heavy cream

1.) Prepare your mise en place. Cut the pancetta into 1/4 inch squares, chop shallots, measure cream and wine, cut or pound chicken to form thin cutlets.

2.) Prepare the chicken. Put 1/2 cup flour on plate. Pat chicken dry, liberally salt and pepper, then dredge each cutlet in flour. Put chicken on plate so when pan is ready, you can immediately add the chicken before the pan gets too hot.

3.) Cook pancetta. When the pan is hot, add the pancetta and cook until crispy and lightly browned. Remove pancetta with slotted spoon so fat stays in the pan.

4.) Cook the onions. Add the onions to the pan with pancetta fat and cook until translucent and golden. Remove onions from pan with slotted spoon.

5.) Add more oil so about 2 tbsp oil is in pan. Add cutlets — enough that pan is full but not so many that the pan is overcrowded. Turn chicken just once and remove when cooked through. Repeat with the rest of the cutlets.

6.) Discard excess fat from pan and when pan is away from heat, deglaze the pan with marsala wine. Scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan (sucs) as these add delicious flavor to your dish. Stir until marsala is reduced by a quarter.

7.) Add cream and boil. The sauce is ready when it reaches a thicker, sauce like consistency. I’ve learned that sauce is ready when you can separate the sauce with a wooden spoon and the sauce slowly retakes its shape.

8.) Add onions, pancetta and chicken. Cook until heated, about a minute.

Helpful Hints:

  • Prep your mise en place.  First, because “mise en place” is a fun word and second, because having everything chopped and measured and prepped makes all the difference in the world.  You’re not going to want to be chopping onions as the oil starts to smoke and timers start buzzing and everything starts happening all at once.
  • Thin and consistent chicken breasts are key to cooking quickly and not burning the sucs (brown bits at bottom of pan). I used ultra-thin breasts here but you can also slice thicker chicken in half, parallel to the cutting board.
  • Pat the chicken breasts dry – completely dry.  Any residual water will lower the pan temperature and/or steam the chicken, preventing a nice crust from forming on the chicken and preventing the sucs at the bottom of the pan to form.
  • Only turn the chicken once, if possible.
  • Take the pan OFF the heat before deglazing with the marsala and maybe add just a little at first.

Source:  Simply Recipes


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