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Have a dish...but help me find the perfect sauce!

  • m

So I came across a recipe in a magazine last year and it turned out to be something I really love: chicken breast wrapped in sage and pancetta (with sage butter stuffed inside the breast). I sear the chicken then slowly finish in the oven. I usually serve it with garlic roasted new potatoes. My boyfriend and his parents loved it, but they were all like, "Where's the sauce?" And I kind of see their point, I've never been a huge sauce-on-protein person but in this dish a sauce would probably not hurt.

I was thinking something mild and not too heavy, like a white wine sauce. I googled this recipe to see if it is usually made with sauce but didn't find anything. Any ideas? I am a sauce novice so...butter or olive oil? Flour or no flour? Any thoughts would be very appreciated! I'll be making this dish at a dinner party next week and want to have a saucer to pass around with it for the sauce lovers.



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  1. My first reaction was something simple like, butter, a small amount of shallot, a berry and white wine……..but it all depends, I wouldn’t want to overpower the dish, but the saltiness of the pancetta might be we complimented with something sweet.

    But I could be completely wrong…………..

    1 Reply
    1. re: River19

      I'm going in your direction River19. Something a bit sweet and a bit acidic. A red wine-balsamic vinegar reduction would be good.

    2. I would probably go with a chicken broth,white wine, some drippings with sage and butter and shallots and black pepper, and then just reduce it rather than flour. I would not use a lot of wine because it can get overpowering when reduced.

      1. Maybe something like this lemon beurre blanc sauce... http://frenchfood.about.com/od/dressi...

        1. A pan sauce--remove the cooked meat to plate and cover. Add a little shallot mince and saute for a bit. Deglaze with white wine. Toss in a few chopped capers and a generous squirt of lemon juice plus any meat juices. Let reduce for a bit, then reduce heat to as low as you can get it and mount with (swirl/whisk in) lots of butter.

          1. I too say a white wine pan sauce with no flour. You've made a wonderful dish with subtle flavors, don't mess it up with a heavy sauce.

            1. I'll echo the sentiment of others... stick with white wine, no cream... some butter at the end. Also, put the sauce on the plate first so as not to soften up the wonderfully crisp pan-fried pancetta. I would also do some chicken stock as well, get a cup or two and reduce it to a few tablespoons; this will give your sauce a lot of body without the heaviness of cream and with a nice delicate flavor (but be careful! make sure you use good stock -- bad stock reduced tastes like worse stock).

              1. That's chicken saltimbocca. In Cooks Illustrated's recipe, which is great, you deglaze the pan with vermouth and finish with lemon juice, butter and parsley. No flour that I recall—you don't need it gravy-like, just a little bit of oomph and moistness.

                1. My thought is you need a cream velouté. Like a béchamel, but with liquid from your cooking instead of milk. So you need some liquid, possibly from deglazing your searing pan, using some white wine if you wish. Then make a butter-flour roux, add the liquid and you have velouté. Then add egg yolks and heavy cream and it becomes a cream velouté. A little lemon juice and salt, etc.

                  Disclaimer: I haven't tried this. I'm getting the basic idea from Classic Sauces and their Preparation by Raymond Oliver (1967). I suggest researching cream velouté and practicing this first to get the consistency you want.

                  1. I'm in the pan sauce camp. Saute some minced shallot in the pan, deglaze the pan with wine, and then finish with some butter, pepper, salt (if needed) and a touch of lemon juice. Simple, and it won't compete with the flavors of the sage and pancetta.

                    1. Is there a chance the chicken is overcooked and people think it is dry, and therefore there is need for a sauce? You could also add a piece of Italian fontina inside each one for some gooey goodness.

                      1. I'll suggest a Marsala or Madeira wine sauce.....