Wednesday, December 1, 2010


chicken marsala
Ever since we returned from our trip to the North Carolina mountains, I’ve been thinking about how my son and DIL raved over their chicken marsala at Chef's Table in Waynesville.   Chicken Marsala is one of those classic dishes that I’ve never made, simply because I never have Marsala wine on hand.  And that’s because I really had no other use for it.  Why spend a lot of money for a wine that would  be essentially thrown out  after one use?

Then I read that authentic Tiramisu is made with Marsala.  So now I had two uses for this sweet dessert wine.  A little more research uncovered the fact that Marsala is a fortified wine, meaning that alcohol is added to preserve sweetness and prevent fermentation.  It will keep for about 6 months in the fridge after it is opened.  That allows plenty of time to make several batches of Tiramisu and Chicken Marsala.

But which brand to buy?  Our local Harris Teeter had no less than 5 brands, most American made.  Back to the computer for more research, and I found that the original Marsala, made in the Marsala region of Sicily by Florio since 1833, is generally considered the best.   Florio makes several grades and varieties.  Fine Marsala, the grade available in my local Harris Teeter, is aged less than 1 year.  Sweet Marsala can also be used like a port or sherry, as an after-dinner drink.  I was lucky to happen on a sale, and got this bottle for $10 and change.009
Next, I needed a recipe.  After checking several online, I decided to try one found on Cooking for Engineers.  Admittedly, I was nervous, because the recipe seemed way too simple with hardly any ingredients.  The chicken was not even coated in flour before frying.  But the author insisted this was the real thing and couldn’t be beat, so I thought, why not?  I followed everything to a “T,” and we weren’t disappointed.  This is a great recipe.  It’s easy, with few ingredients, and produces a dish of rich, excellent flavor.  Just be aware:  you will need to use a good-quality Marsala, because that's what shines in this recipe.

Chicken Marsala
Source:  Cooking for Engineers
Rating:  10 out of 10
INGREDIENTS:  4 cups cold water, divided use
4 Tbsp. sea salt (or kosher salt)
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1-1/2 lbs.)
Sea salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. olive oil + 1 tsp. unsalted butter
4 oz. thickly sliced mushrooms
1 cup sweet Marsala wine, preferably Florio
1/4 cup heavy cream 
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (my addition)

In small cup, dissolve salt in 1/4 cup hot water.  When thoroughly dissolved, pour into large resealable plastic bag and add remaining water.  Seal bag and refrigerate till thoroughly cold.
Add chicken and refrigerate 1 hour. 

Rinse breasts well with cold water; pat dry with paper towels.  Slice breasts into cutlets and pound to even out.  Lightly salt and pepper chicken.  Heat oil and butter over medium-high heat in large, heavy skillet.  Pan-fry chicken, just till done, about 3-4 minutes on each side, depending on thickness.  Do not over cook.  Transfer chicken to plate; cover with foil; keep warm. 

Sauté mushrooms in same pan over medium-high heat.  Pour marsala over mushrooms and cook till wine is reduced, several minutes.  (Let it thicken slightly.)  Add cream; cook till reduced and the sauce coats the back of a metal spoon or leaves a trail at the bottom of pan when scraped.  Return chicken to pan, turning it over to coat well with sauce.  Cook till chicken is hot.  Garnish with parsley.  Yield:  4-6 servings


Bo said...

I love Chicken Marsala. I prefer to use sweet Marsala like you did.

briarrose said...

Oooo this looks delicious. Beautiful job. I haven't had this dish in an age.....craving now in place. ;)

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

I love chicken Marsala, I must try your recipe. Diane

teresa said...

10 out of 10! i'm sold!

Suzanne said...

Wow, that looks really good, great job and your first time making chicken marsala. I've never made it either. BTW that apple caramel crumb pie looks lovely too.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Judy, I haven't eaten chicken Marsala in years. I keep a bottle of Marsala on hand just for this dish. Thanks for reminding me how much we love it. I'll be making it soon.

Nutmeg Nanny said...

This looks great! I love anything with mushrooms...yum!

Anna said...

Hello from me again! I haven't made Chicken Marsala in ages because I ran out of Marsala and never replenished the stock. This recipe looks worthy of a new bottle.

Also, Michael from Cooking for Engineers lives one block over from me. It's true.

Judy said...

Anna, how cool that Michael is your neighbor. He has a great website.

Anonymous said...

This sounds great! Sometimes the simplest recipes wow us the most :)