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Chicken Marsala is a classic dish that is well liked and easy to make.  There are many ways to make it; I have several ways myself.  My varieties almost all have the same ingredients with the difference being how little effort you want to take and whether you want to serve it immediately or not.Plated Chicken Marsala

The recipe follows the common cooking approach of sautéing cutlets coated lightly with seasoned flour, followed by sautéing mushrooms and creating the sauce.  My little twist is that I add diced shallots to the mushrooms.  The variations come into play on the last steps.  Do I do it by the book by correctly sautéing the mushrooms, removing them from the pan, then adding the wine, letting it reduce way down, and then adding chicken stock?  Or do I just start sautéing the mushrooms and throw in the wine after a little while, then let it liquid reduce down until I think it’s ready?  Do I place the chicken in a glass baking dish and throw the sauce (not as reduced) over the top, cover, and place in the oven where the sauce will reduce down or get totally absorbed?  Or do I add butter or flour to the sauce to thicken it so I can serve immediately?  It’s ALL good though some are better.  Experiment.  Because it is a simple dish, over the course of the year try making it different ways until you find what works for you.

A minor note about the wine.  I never have measured the wine when I make this dish.  I just pour until I think it’s the right amount.  If you are uncomfortable with that idea, start with a cup and add more if you think you should.  And yes, I use the cheap marsala but you are welcome to buy a better grade of wine.

Chicken Marsala – 1 Knife

Ingredients:

  • 1½ pounds boneless chicken breast
  • ¼ cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil (extra virgin)
  • ¼ cup diced shallot (1 moderate sized shallot)
  • ½ pound cremini mushrooms sliced (regular white mushrooms will work as well)
  • 1 cup Marsala wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth or stock (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons butter (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons flour combined with twice as much cold water to make a slurry (optional)

Cook:

  • Peel and dice shallots and set aside
  • Clean and slice mushrooms and set aside
  • Using a sharp knife, trim the boneless chicken, then horizontally slice the chicken to achieve thinner pieces of a more uniform thickness (or thinness in this case).  You may want to cut some of the pieces in halves or thirds to get smaller, more manageable pieces.
  • In a non-stick skillet or pan, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat – enough to sauté the chicken with.  This will vary depending on the size of the pan.  Add more oil before sautéing a second batch of chicken.
  • Dredge both sides of chicken pieces in flour, making sure the chicken is coated but make sure to shake or tap off any excess flour
  • Sauté chicken until lightly golden on each side.  Depending on thickness, you may need to cook a little longer.  Or if you are going to bake the chicken in the oven, you can err on the less done side since the chicken will be cooked further.  As each chicken piece finishes cooking, remove from the pan and place on a plate or a glass baking pan or casserole (if doing the oven approach).  Add more olive oil when you add new pieces to the pan.  Cover the plate with aluminum foil to keep the chicken warm while you prepare the rest. IMG_0213
  • Lower heat to medium.  If necessary, add a little more olive oil to the pan.  Add shallots to the pan, a sauté them for a couple of minutes to begin softening, at which time you can add the mushrooms.

Best flavor approach:

  • Sauté mushrooms until done.  Remove from pan (place on top of chicken for ease).
  • Turn heat to high and add wine.
  • Reduce to about ¼ cup
  • Add broth and heat to just boiling
  • Lower heat somewhat and stir in slurry, letting it cook a couple of minutes (optional)
  • Reduce heat to low and stir in butter until it melts and is blended in (optional) [the butter and/or slurry are used to thicken the sauce; how thick you want the sauce is a matter of taste; start with the 1 tbsp flour slurry mixture and the 2 tbsp butter, then adjust the next time you make the dish.]
  • If serving immediately, place the chicken and mushrooms back in the pan to warm back up a bit (a minute or two).  Then remove chicken and cover with sauce; extra sauce can be served on the side. IMG_0216
  • If baking, pour sauce over the chicken, cover the dish, and place in low oven until you are ready to serve.  Set oven temperature based on how soon you will be serving.  If an hour or more, then use a low oven (200°); if ½ hour or less, use 300-350° oven. [Hint: do not thicken sauce as much for this method.]

Simplistic approach:

  • Sauté mushrooms until they start to soften
  • Add wine and raise heat to high
  • If serving directly to plate,
    • Reduce liquid until you have the amount of sauce you want.
    • Lower heat a little and add slurry; cook a couple of minutes more so the sauce thickens.
    • Lower heat more and add chicken back to pan heat up and get coated
    • Serve
  • If serving baking in the oven,
    • When the mushrooms have softened and sauce has reduced somewhat, pour sauce over chicken.
    • Cover baking dish and place in a 300 degree oven for ½ hour or longer
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