Monday, June 15, 2009

Chicken Marsala

Chicken MarsalaIt's wedding season. I just returned from an especially touching ceremony in the Pocono's where we had a terrific reunion of sorts while commemorating the love and commitment of a very special couple, Dan & Megan. It's particularly moving to be included in these celebrations and I am, as always, awed by the expression of love manifest not just by the bride and groom, but by all those in attendance. Deep down, I'm a sucker for ritual and my emotions run just below the surface. I left with a renewed sense of gratitude for all the love in my own life.
Another couple having just returned from their own honeymoon were looking for advice on something easy and quick to serve the in-laws Sunday evening. Both are young and inexperienced in the kitchen, but willing students, so I suggested an Italian favorite with newlyweds and anyone else with minimal skills and even less time: Chicken Marsala. Marsala wine has a very distinctive and sweet aroma that lends a unique flavor to sauces. Not counting salt & pepper and cooking oil, there are about five ingredients total in this recipe. I walked them both through the steps between holes on the golf course the morning of the ceremony.
Chicken Marsala 
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded ⅛" thick
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
  • ¾ cup Marsala wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Chicken cutletsBrown cutlets dredged in flour
Brown cutlets on both sidesSoften shallots in cooking oil
If you have an Italian butcher, he'll pound your chicken breasts for you at the market. Otherwise, lay breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap, and pound with a mallet or rolling pin.

Heat oil and 2 Tbsp of butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Put flour in a shallow dish and season with salt & pepper. You can add dried herbs to the flour as well. I like oregano or thyme. Dredge chicken cutlets in flour shaking off excess.

Cook cutlets in oil until just brown on both sides, about two minutes per side. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Soften shallots in same pan until translucent, then add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms have browned and released their liquid.

Add Marsala and bring to a boil, reducing by half. Add the chicken stock and thicken the sauce slightly, about 3-5 minutes. Lower heat to medium, and return cutlets to the pan, cooking for 5-6 minutes. Sauce will continue to thicken.

Just before serving, swirl in remaining 2 Tbsp butter and top with chopped parsley. Salt & pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Brown mushrooms and cook out their liquidReduce Marsala wine by half
Return cutlets to reducing sauce and simmer Stir in butter and add chopped parsley just before serving
You'll see this dish served with every kind of pasta from penne to spaghetti. Irish/Mexican that I am, I opted for roasted potatoes.

This is another meal that is all about the sauce really. A chicken cutlet is just a chicken cutlet. But you reduce some Marsala and stir in some butter, and now you're cooking with gas.
Storrs 2006 Lester Family Vineyards Pinot NoirMy quarterly shipment for Storrs came in just before packing for the trip to eastern PA. I threw an '04 Merlot and the 2005 Mann Vineyard Bordeaux-blend into a backpack for the post-rehearsal party Friday night, and reserved a Zinfandel and the Lester Family Vineyard Pinot for the cellar. The blend was the hit of the weekend. Everyone wanted to know about Storrs after that. The Pinot got opened tonight. Medium bodied, lots of red berries and herbs in the nose, and again the beach tar that I always seem to pick up with Pinot Noirs. The wine just expands in the mouth. The berries open up, making way for earthy, woody notes. It's complex and terrifically balanced in the finish. This one is hand-crafted, and unfortunately comes with a price tag to match ($38 at the winery or for members). However, it's still a great bargain for a special summer leg of lamb or roasted pork loin.
Chicken Marsala with roasted potatoes
I've prepared hundred of elaborate meals for groups large and small. But on a Monday night with nothing but a good book for company, I can still whip up a memorable dish and feel pretty good about myself. I brown bag it, or in this case, Tupperware it for lunch at work every day. If I get past midnight without raiding the ice box tonight, I'm in for a real treat tomorrow around the noon hour.
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food


Janis said...

MMM... this looks delicious! I'm going to try this recipe soon. Can you buy Marsala wine at the grocery store? What brand do you recommend?

Blog O. Food said...

That grocery store stuff is shite. Any good wine or liquor store will have better Marsala for under $10. I like Florio. You won't believe how easy this dish is. Thanks Janis.

Megan said...

you are so sweet :) we wish you could have catered the whole thing because all your blog dishes look amazing but then again you wouldn't have been able to have as much fun :) just back from costa rica and i'm missing my daily rice and beans...any good gallo pinto recipes?