Not too long ago, we were rummaging through the cabinet above the refrigerator. You know the one, that one cabinet that becomes the holder of all things that you use once a year or once ever. My father in law is a bourbon drinker and was over for dinner. We aren’t huge liquor drinkers in our house, leaning more towards wine and beer. But when we buy liquor, we end up storing the bottles above the fridge because we hardly ever break them out. Well, lo and behold, in our quest for whiskey, we also came across an almost full bottle of marsala. The culinary part of my brain started scheming and planning.
One thing that I really love but rarely make at home (or even order in restaurants) is Chicken Marsala. It’s one of those things that, if it’s done well, you know you are going to like. But, frankly, because you know what you are getting, it doesn’t always seem very exciting. Thus, I never order it and never make it. And it’s pretty hard to mess up so I don’t know why I don’t make it more.
So I set out to make chicken marsala later that week. This is actually a pretty quick meal for a weeknight. You could easily get this on the table in under an hour if you organize and prep your ingredients before you get started. In this case, I also happened to come across a hunk of pancetta that I’d thrown in the freezer when I made G-d knows what. So I thawed that out to start the dish and add a bit of complex flavor (you could leave this out if you can’t get it). The Boy had never had Chicken Marsala and gobbled it right up. Since it turned out so well, I figured I’d share it with you guys! I hope you enjoy it too!
- 1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts (or thighs if you prefer)
- about 1/2 C flour for dredging
- about 1/4 C Olive oil, divided
- 2 oz pancetta, diced (optional but REALLY good)
- 1/4 C sweet onion or shallot, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 oz mushrooms (cremini or button should work), cleaned and sliced
- 1 T all purpose flour
- 1/2 C marsala wine
- 3/4 C chicken stock
- 2-3 T unsalted butter, divided
- 2 T chopped Italian parsley, plus a little extra for garnish
Cut chicken breasts in half first lengthwise, then crosswise. Place chicken pieces in a large zipper bag one or two at a time and pound with a rolling pin or meat mallet (the flat side, not the toothy one) to about 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick. Season chicken lightly with salt and pepper and dredge lightly in flour, dusting off any excess.
Heat skillet over medium heat. Coat skillet with about 1T olive oil and saute pancetta until crisp and fat is rendered. Remove pancetta with slotted spoon to a paper towel.
Add about half of the olive oil to the pan. Fry coated chicken pieces in pan a few at a time. Cook 2-3 minutes per side or until lightly golden. Add more olive oil as needed as you cook remaining chicken pieces. Remove chicken to a warm plate until all are cooked.
When all chicken is cooked, wipe out pan and coat lightly with olive oil. Melt in 1 T of butter. Add sliced onions or shallots and cook until translucent and lightly golden. Add garlic and cook one minute more. Add mushrooms to pan with onions and cook until lightly browned and most liquid is evaporated, about five to seven minutes. Dust mixture with 1 T flour and cook for one to two minutes. Reduce heat and stir in marsala wine. Bring to a bubble and then stir in chicken stock until smooth. Stir reserved pancetta back in and simmer until lightly thickened. Turn off heat and slowly stir in remaining butter until melted into sauce. Sauce will be very velvety. Stir in parsley and put chicken pieces back in, turning to coat well.
Serve chicken pieces over egg noodles or linguini. Spoon mushroom and pancetta sauce over the lot and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.