Not sure why, but I was in the mood for chicken marsala. Maybe it was the coincidence of boneless breasts and mushrooms in my fridge, both quickly nearing their expiration dates. Yeah, just a coincidence.
According to that prestigious wine expert, Wikipedia, marsala wine is fortified (wine-speak for "gets you drunk faster"). No, seriously, the marsala I picked up is 18% alcohol. Just to compare, the chardonnay languishing in my basement is 13% and the Manischewitz leftover from last year's seder is only 11%.
Marsala is a sweet wine, with a hint of nuttiness. The flavor is rather distinctive, even to me, so if you were to substitute another wine, the chicken dish would still taste good, but it would be a completely different recipe.
Speaking of different, I tried an alterative way of cooking the mushrooms, sauteing them semi-dry until the mushrooms gave up their moisture, then continued to saute until the moisture evaporated and concentrated the flavor before adding the marsala. Oh. My. Gawd! What a flavor wallop! These mushrooms are like crack. I was practically licking my plate clean and eyeing sauce drips on the table. Even youngSon, who first suspiciously sniffed the 'shrooms on his plate, pushing them around a bit before trying it, complemented dinner with unusually lavish praise, teen-style ("Good job, Mom!"). The only complaint came from theHubby, who said was that there wasn't enough sauce. I've upped the sauce ingredients below to correct this egregious error.
1 Tbl. olive oil
1 Tbl. unsalted margarine
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, pounded flat
1/2 pound package sliced mushrooms
1 cup Marsala wine
2 cups chicken broth (low-sodium preferred)
1 tsp. chopped garlic (bottled okay)
2 sprigs thyme
1 Tbl. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbl. finely chopped parsley leaves
1/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt (if needed)
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add olive oil and margarine. Heat until margarine melts, then add chicken breasts in a single layer.
Brown chicken on both sides, about 3-4 minutes each (chicken will still be a tiny bit pink on the inside), then remove to a covered dish; keep warm.
Add mushrooms to skillet; do not add additional oil, even if it looks like it might be needed. Saute until the mushrooms give off their moisture.
BTW, mushrooms will squeak after cooking a while if you poke them. Go on -- give it a try, it's so cool! Continue to saute until the moisture disappears.
Slowly add Marsala, broth, garlic and thyme. Bring to a simmer, then cook until sauce reduces by half. Taste and add pepper along with salt, if needed.
Return chicken and any accumulated juices to skillet. Bring sauce back just to a simmer. Chicken should be finished cooking, but if not, continue to simmer until any pink is completely gone.
Remove skillet from heat; add lemon juice.
Plate chicken. Spoon mushrooms and sauce on each serving. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with rice or mashed potatoes along with another veggie, if desired.