Thursday dinner: Creamy chicken marsala with pancetta & herbed parmesan orzo

Chicken breasts are on the shopping list each week. I usually go for the Wegmans chicken cutlets — which are boneless, skinless breasts that have been nicely trimmed — but this week I picked up the thin-sliced chicken cutlets. A little more money, but they are usually 1/2-inch thick and perfect for pan searing.

Usually.

I split the vacuum package open and heard the whoosh of air. Like a self-inflating raft, the chicken breasts swelled up and nearly doubled in size. This is typically not a problem, but I was at a point in the recipe where I needed to dredge them in flour and get them into the pan, or risk burned pancetta and a smoke alarm. The end result? Overcooked chicken.

I usually don’t rush like I did tonight. Typically, I would have opened the chicken before turning the burner on, but I got stuck at work. Audio from the NCAA basketball tournament was locked in my head while I was designing things for an upcoming event. When I hit save and glanced to the clock, it was 4:10. I typically leave at 4 p.m. This is a slight problem because I have a very tight window to work with.

The Baby eats dinner by 5 p.m. Any earlier and she gets really pissy. Throw things pissy. Routines do that to you. As it was, I still needed to stop for half and half and I wasn’t sure what the road home was going to be like (seriously, what a dumbass). Luckily, that was clear. I made it home around 4:20, so there wasn’t a lot of mise en place time.

The end result was fine. The recipes, which I picked up from my friends’ Pinterest boards, need some adjustment. First, I have increased the amount of marsala used in the chicken dish, simply because the burnoff rate is too high. I don’t have fresh basil on hand, so I went with herbes de provence in the orzo. Otherwise, this was countertop-to-tabletop in 31 minutes. Not bad for a rushed afternoon.

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Creamy Chicken Marsala with Pancetta
Adapted from Fine Cooking

  • Olive oil
  • 2 oz. pancetta, diced
  • Pan-searing flour
  • 2 thin-sliced chicken breasts (about 1/2-inch thick)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dry marsala wine
  • 4 tbsp. half and half, at room temperature

Add about 1 tbsp. of olive oil to a medium non-stick skillet and heat on high. When the oil shimmers, add the pancetta and brown, about 4-5 minutes (I like it crispy).

Dredge the chicken breasts in the pan-searing flour, shaking off the excess and add to the pan. Brown 5-6 minutes each side, until there is a nice golden color on the sides. Remove the chicken and set aside.

Add the wine to the pan and use a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan. Reduce the wine by a quarter, then add the half and half to the pan. Stir in to prevent curdling or separation. When the sauce thickens, add the chicken back to the pan to rewarm. Serve hot.

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Herbed Parmesan Orzo
Adapted from Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen

  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 cup orzo
  • 1 can chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp. herbes de provence
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add orzo and stir to coat with butter. Brown the pasta so it begins to toast up some, about 4-5 minutes. Add broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover saucepan. Cook on lowest setting until the orzo is cooked through and chicken broth is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. Stir in the grated cheese and herbes de provence.

 

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