Within the last year or so, I’ve taken a shine to cooking with pancetta, stemming from another chicken dish I’ve made a few times, called Chicken with Rosemary, Red Bell Peppers and Olives. Pancetta is similar to bacon, in that it is salt cured pork, except unlike bacon, pancetta is not smoked. It adds a really nice meaty, savory saltiness to the dish, without the smokiness of bacon. But you can totally substitute bacon here if preferred! I promise that you’ll receive zero judgment from this bacon lover.
To prepare this dish, Chicken Breast with Pancetta Cream and Peas, from the March 2014 issue of Cooking Light, the first step is to heat a large heavy duty skillet over medium heat, and then add some oil to your pan. Sauté sliced garlic in the pan for about two minutes; use a slotted spoon to remove the garlic, and set aside. Next, add the chopped pancetta and sauté until the meat has crisped, about 4-5 minutes. Remove, and set aside.
Now, in the base of your hot skillet, you have garlic-infused oil and pancetta drippings, which are perfect for searing your seasoned chicken breast! We’re using relatively thin, boneless, skinless chicken breast halves here, and searing for about 4 minutes on each side.
Remove the chicken, set aside, and keep warm (with foil, etc.)
Next, we deglaze the pan with a hearty splash of dry wine wine (I used Barefoot Pinot Grigio). Use a spatula to scrape any brown bits from the base of the pan while the wine reduced. (Or just use additional chicken stock here in place of wine, if you prefer.)
Now that the wine has reduced dramatically, the chicken is returned to the skillet, along with one cup of chicken stock. Cover the dish with foil or a lid, and let simmer for about 6 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
Okay, now we’re moving the chicken out the pan again. Are you keeping up!? While this recipe isn’t overly complicated, there are several in-and-out of the pan steps to keep track of! I hope you have plenty of tongs!
Alright, so my chicken is off to the side, on a plate covered in foil, cooked through. Meanwhile, I have a skillet full of hot chicken broth on the stove. Next I whisk in: 2 Tablespoons mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese) and a water/flour slurry. Bring to a boil, and simmer for two minutes, until slightly thickened.
Now we’re adding a few of our reserved ingredients back to the skillet, along with a few newbies:
- sliced garlic
- crisp pancetta
Voila! Your pancetta cream sauce is complete!
To plate this dish, I recommend placing the cooked chicken atop something starchy that will sop up any extra sauce, such as orzo, mashed potatoes, or grits. I chose orzo:
Now, spoon that creamy pancetta and pea sauce over the chicken!
The peas add great color, as well as delicate little bursts of sweet flavor, while the pancetta lends a savory, meaty flavor to the rich cream sauce. The mascarpone cheese also adds subtle tanginess. I thought this recipe from Cooking Light was perfect without any modifications!
I also made a salad to maximize veggie intake at the dinner hour.
Try it out!
Chicken Breast with Pancetta Cream and Peas
Recipe from Cooking Light
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 ounces pancetta, chopped
- 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
- 3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup unsalted chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
- Optional: hot cooked orzo
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove garlic from pan using a slotted spoon; reserve garlic. Increase heat to medium-high. Add pancetta; sauté 4 minutes or until crisp. Remove pancetta from pan using a slotted spoon; reserve pancetta.
- Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper; sauté 4 minutes on each side. Remove chicken from pan. Add wine; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook until the liquid almost evaporates (about 3 minutes). Return chicken to pan. Add stock; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook for 6 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove chicken from pan.
- Add mascarpone to pan, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Combine water and flour, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes; stir in pancetta, garlic, and peas. Cook 1 minute. Serve sauce over chicken.
My rating: 8.1/10