Why we love it
Traditionally made with veal, and called saltimbocca alla Romana, this chicken saltimbocca is a restaurant quality dish that can be on the table in under 30 minutes.
- Perfectly seasoned, pan-seared, tender chicken breast.
- Umami-rich prosciutto and comforting sage.
- A silky white wine and butter sauce.
- Extremely easy and super quick – perfect for weeknights.
Saltimbocca literally translates to jump in the mouth and it’s such an apt description – the flavour is wonderfully rich and makes this dish absolutely mouth-watering. After eating this in Rome, I knew I had to re-create it here to share with you.
The silky saltimbocca sauce takes minutes to cook and is made in the same pan the chicken was seared in (also in minutes) meaning all those wonderful flavours merge together and, as a bonus, creating less washing up. Gotta love that!
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What is saltimbocca?
This classic Italian dish, originating in Rome, consists of thin veal cutlets topped or rolled with prosciutto and sage, then pan seared until golden and tender. I personally love the topped version because, when that prosciutto gets all golden and crispy, it takes this dish to another level.
Pronounced “salt-im-bokka”, this dish is Italian cooking simplicity at it’s best. Take a few simple, every day ingredients and prepare to be wowed by this amazing restaurant quality dish.
Ingredients you’ll need
Jump to the recipe for full ingredients and instructions.
- Meat: Chicken’s in the name and chicken breast cutlets are what I use for this saltimbocca recipe. Traditionally, veal is used and pork is also delicious. Whichever meat you choose, make sure it’s nice and thin. I’ve even seen seafood cooked saltimbocca style, so choose your preference.
- Prosciutto: It’s not saltimbocca without prosciutto. It seasons the meat and adds it’s own unique flavour and when it gets all crispy, it’s just divine. You only need one slice per chicken cutlet as it only covers one side, so it’s actually a pretty economical dish.
- Sage: The third main ingredient that is an absolute must-have is fresh sage. Try to choose nice-looking, large leaves. They get a bit crispy and add so much flavour to both the sauce and chicken.
For the chicken saltimbocca sauce
- Wine: Wine is a must here. All the alcohol gets cooked out and it doesn’t taste winey at the end, I promise. You’re left with just the aromatic flavour it adds and it’s truly wonderful. Many wines will work here. I use a sauvignon blanc but chardonnay would be great or a classic Italian pinot grigio. Sometimes saltimbocca is made with marsala which adds a sweet, fruity vibe.
- Butter: Make sure to use a salted butter for this – it adds seasoning and of course flavour but also a silky texture to the sauce.
- Chicken stock: Chicken stock or chicken broth adds a little extra sauce because we can never get enough sauce.
- Flour: Just plain flour / all-purpose flour. If you want to keep it gluten free, make sure to use a gluten-free flour blend in place of regular flour. This is used to thicken the sauce.
How to make chicken saltimbocca (step-by-step)
Saltimbocca really is so quick and easy. You’ll start by searing the chicken, then set that aside, before using the same pan to make the sauce. No flavour is wasted. The fond in the bottom of the pan left from where the chicken caramelised all gets mixed into that sauce, then the resting juices from the chicken are added to the sauce at the end – don’t throw that away, it’s all amazing flavour.
Jump to the recipe for full ingredients and instructions.
Cook the chicken
- Prepare the chicken: First thing’s first, you need to get your chicken breast nice and thin. Start by slicing each breast horizontally (through it’s thickness) (photo 1) so that you have two thinner breast pieces from each one. Pound the chicken nice and thin to about 6mm / ¼ inch thick.
- Season and top the chicken: Season the chicken on both sides (photo 2), then lay a slice of prosciutto over the top of each breast. Lay two sage leaves over each one, then secure them with a toothpick (photo 3). Slice each breast in half (photo 4), so you’ll end up with 8 pieces in total each topped with prosciutto and one sage leaf.
- Cook the chicken: Heat your non-stick frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat with a little oil. Cooking 4 pieces of at a time so that you don’t overcrowd the pan, cook the chicken breast (photo 5) for about 3 minutes until golden underneath, then flip (photo 6) and cook for another 3 minutes with the prosciutto side down.
- Set aside: Transfer the chicken to a warm plate (I just warm my plates in the microwave for a couple of minutes) and cover with foil.
For the butter and white wine sauce
- Butter: Start the saltimbocca sauce by adding butter to the pan. Move it around as it melts, loosening the golden bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Make a roux: Add the flour and stir it in (photo 7), letting it cook for about a minute.
- The wine: Now add the wine in and let it come to bubble, stirring every so often but letting it reduce right down (photo 8).
- Stock: Add the chicken stock and stir well to combine. Let it come to a bubble (photo 9) stirring until it thickens.
- Add back the chicken: Finally, add the chicken pieces back (photo 10) to make sure they’re nice and hot.
You can swap the chicken for veal for pork with no other changes to the recipe, just make sure your pieces of meat are nice and thin.
What to serve with saltimbocca
You’ve got the chicken saltimbocca sorted, now you need a side dish.
Something carby: Chicken saltimbocca is fantastic served over something starchy like mashed potatoes. Risotto would be very luxurious. Creamy polenta is also a great option. You could serve it over some cooked pasta too, another one that’s quick and easy to make while the chicken is cooking. If you want to keep things super simple, just serve it with some crusty bread for mopping up any bits of sauce that you definitely don’t want to leave behind.
Veggies: A side salad of this asparagus, parmesan and rocket salad is absolute perfection. Or you can combine your salad and carbs all in one with this pesto caprese pasta salad. If you want something hot, steamed asparagus, broccoli or green beans do the trick and if you’re in a ‘can’t be bothered’ mood, just add some mesclun mix with a little balsamic glaze on the side.
Did you try this easy chicken saltimbocca recipe?
Leaving a rating and comment below the recipe is so helpful!
- 2 medium-large chicken breasts (about 500g / 1.1lb total)
- ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper
- 8 large fresh sage leaves
- 4 slices prosciutto
- 1 ½ tablespoons oil
- 2 tablespoons butter (28g/1oz)
- 1 teaspoon plain flour (all-purpose flour)
- ¼ cup white wine
- ½ cup low-sodium chicken stock (chicken broth)
For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided
- Large non stick frying pan / skillet
- Slice each chicken breast into two pieces, cutting horizontally through their thickness – this will give you two thinner chicken breasts, known as chicken cutlets. See all the tips here.
- Give the chicken a gentle pound between sheets of plastic wrap, focusing on the thicker end, until 6mm/¼ inch thick. Season both sides of each piece using the salt and pepper.
- Lay a slice of prosciutto over the top of each chicken cutlet then lay 2 sage leaves on an angle over each one, using a toothpick to secure each sage leaf in place. Slice the cutlets in half so you have 2 pieces from each cutlet (you’ll end up with 8 pieces in total).
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Cook the chicken (in 2-3 batches, don’t overcrowd the pan) until golden each side and just cooked through (about 3 mins each side). Set aside on a warmed plate covered with foil. Add the remaining oil only if required to cook the remaining chicken.
- Add the butter to the pan until melted. As it melts, move it around with a wooden spatula to loosen any nice browned chicken fond off the bottom of the pan.
- Add the flour and whisk to combine. Cook for 1 minute, stirring regularly.
- Add the wine bring it to a simmer. Stir it regularly and let it reduce for 1 minutes. This will cook off the alcohol at the same time.
- Add the chicken stock and stir it in well. Bring to a simmer to reduce and thicken so that it coats a spoon.
- Add the chicken back to the sauce, along with its resting juices, to make sure it’s nice and hot. Taste the sauce and add salt if required. Serve.
- Please take a moment to leave a comment & rating. It's appreciated and so helpful.
- Veal is the traditional meat used for saltimbocca alla Romana. Pork also tastes great. You can swap the chicken for either with no other changes, making sure whatever meat you use is pounded thinly.
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