Monday, January 24, 2011

Chicken Marsala














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.

Chicken Marsala
serves 4

 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.

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