Chicken alla Margherita (adapted from Private Collection, Junior League of Palo Alto, 1980)

Chicken alla Margherita is a sophisticated-but-easy-enough-for-a-weeknight dish from Private Collection, a cookbook published by the Junior League of Palo Alto.    The recipe’s author is presented to the reader as a member of one of “Northern California’s oldest Italian families” with a “flair and elegance for entertaining”, and the author of luxurious risotto recipe in the same cookbook.  The preparation is fairly straightforward:  chicken breasts are dredged in seasoned flour and pan fried over low heat.  They are assembled in a baking dish and topped with prosciutto and delicate slices of provolone.   The pan is deglazed with broth and white wine and poured over the chicken.  Fifteen minutes in the oven and straight onto the plate.

This is one of those recipes where much depends on the plating and presentation.  When served out of a Pyrex dish onto a melamine plate it plays like more like a Chicken Cordon Bleu than fancy dinner guest fare.   There aren’t any exotic seasonings or complicated flavor profiles – just a lot of rich ingredients playing nicely together.   And, provided the recipe is followed to the letter, the chicken turns out remarkably tender.

The cookbook recommends serving this with the same author’s Risotto alla Milanese – a rich saffron-based risotto.  I wholeheartedly endorse this pairing, along with a green vegetable or simple Caesar salad.   Pasta in a light cream sauce or a simple primavera might work as well.    Enjoy!

Chicken alla Margherita (adapted from Private Collection, Junior League of Palo Alto, 1980)

  • Preparation: 15 min
  • Cooking: 15 min
  • Ready in: 30 min
  • For: 6 hearty servings
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  1. Preheat oven to 350º F
  2. Cut chicken breasts into 2-3 thin filets. Combine salt, pepper, and flour in a plastic bag with chicken pieces and shake until completely coated.
  3. Melt butter in a cast iron skillet over medium-low heat. Working in batches, cook chicken pieces until lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes per side. Chicken will not be completely cooked during this process.
  4. Place chicken pieces in a 13 x 9 baking dish. Cover each piece with a thin slice of prosciutto, then top each with a slice of cheese.
  5. Stir wine and chicken broth into the skillet with the pan juices. Raise heat to medium and simmer until liquid is reduced by half. Pour over chicken pieces.
  6. Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes until cheese is melted but not browned except around the edges. Serve immediately.

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