Chicken Marsala is a classic chicken dish with a richly flavored reduction sauce of Marsala wine, mushrooms and pancetta. It offers enough flair for entertaining and is easy enough for cooking during the week. Start with golden chicken cutlets, then make your Marsala mushroom sauce in the same pan.
Chicken Marsala with Mushroom Sauce
While Chicken Marsala sounds Italian, it's an America-Italian creation. I make mine with chicken cutlets and show you how to create the cutlets. But first a little info on ingredients.
About Marsala Wine
Marsala is a fortified wine made on the Italian island of Sicily. It's wine where spirits are added, creating rich caramelized sauces when use for cooking. They come sweet or dry. Dry marsala is typical for savory dishes (like Chicken Marsala) and sweet marsala for dessert recipes (like Zabglione). In addition to Marsala, you'll need mushrooms and pancetta.
Pancetta is Italian un-smoked bacon. Find it in the deli section or at a deli counter. The butcher can cut you a small chunk to dice up. When I buy it this way, I’ll often eliminate some of the fat and use more of the meaty portion.
It’s also available pre-diced for quick use in many stores. Much of the fat is rendered out during cooking so don't worry if you are not familiar with it. After cooking, the fat is drained off and the meaty part is added back into the sauce for fantastic flavor.
How to Slice Chicken into Cutlets
- Lay a boneless skinless chicken breast rounded or smooth side up on a cutting board.
- Position a sharp chef's knife in the center of the chicken breast at the larger end.
- Slice through the length of the chicken breast horizontally creating two equal pieces.
- Aim a little high while slicing so the bottom piece is a decent thickness.
Season and Dust the Cutlets with Flour
Sprinkle chicken cutlets with salt, pepper and granulated garlic then dust or coat with flour of choice.
- Use a GF blend, cassava flour, rice flour, or coconut flour for gluten-free.
- For wheat flour, try white whole wheat.
The light flour dusting gives the chicken a nice crisp crust. You can skip the flour for grain-free or Paleo and it still tastes great.
Follow my recipe directions for cooking chicken cutlets to a crisp golden brown, then set them side while you make the sauce. To do them all at once use a large saute pan or a large skillet.
Making the Marsala Sauce
In the same pan as the cutlets, create the sauce with Marsala, mushrooms, pancetta, garlic, tomato paste and fresh oregano. The flavors are irresistible. I prefer to use fresh herbs, but if all you have it dried, use ⅓ the amount and add along with the mushrooms so the fried herbs have a chance to rehydrate.
Make it a Complete Meal
Add a green vegetable like baby green beans or tossed green salad for a side dish and maybe some whole wheat or gluten-free pasta tossed with olive oil and good Parmesan and you have a terrific dinner.
- 1½ pounds organic boneless skinless chicken breasts
- sprinkles salt
- sprinkles ground black pepper
- sprinkles granulated garlic
- ½ cup flour: cassava, coconut, rice or white whole wheat
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil oil and butter combo is nice too
- 3 ounces Pancetta chopped small
- 12-16 ounces white or brown mushrooms washed and sliced thin
- 2 large garlic cloves chopped fine
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste freeze extra for future use
- 1 ½ cups dry Marsala wine 12 ounces
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley optional for garnish
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter optional
Make the Cutlets
- Place the chicken breasts flat on your cutting surface with the rounded, smooth side facing up. Trim any tenders and set aside to cook with the cutlets. Place the palm of your hand gently but firmly on the chicken breast. Using a thin bladed, sharp knife, slice the chicken breasts in equal halves horizontally, keeping your knife parallel to the cutting board. Season both sides of the chicken with salt, pepper and granulated garlic. Sprinkle flour over the chicken and lightly coat both sides. Shake off excess.
- Heat a large saute or fry pan (about 11″-12″) over medium heat. Add olive oil. When it’s hot, add chicken cutlets, rounded side down first. Allow the cutlets to cook until they are golden. You can tell when they are almost ready to turn as the edges start to get white (cooked). Turn the cutlets and cook another minute or two, depending on how thickness. When done, they will feel firm to the touch but still give just a little. Remove from the heat and keep warm while making the sauce.
Make the Marsala Sauce
- On a small plate, fold up several layers of paper towels. Over medium heat in the same pan, cook the pancetta until crisp and golden. Pour the pancetta onto the paper towels and drain off fat.
- In the same pan over medium heat, add the sliced mushrooms. It may seem dry at first, but as the mushrooms cook they give off their moisture. You can add just a little more olive oil or butter if you want. Cook the mushrooms until they give off their moisture and start to brown.
- Add the pancetta back into the pan along with the garlic and tomato paste. Cook 1 minute, stirring. Add the Marsala to the pan. Cook until the wine is reduced by about half and starting to get thick and syrupy. Stir in the fresh oregano and you are ready to serve. To serve, place chicken cutlets on warm plates and top with the sauce.