Chicken Marsala recipes combine the succulent flavors of chicken, mushrooms, and Marsala wine to create a fabulous dinner.
Wine Me, Dine Me
At the heart of all chicken Marsala recipes is Marsala wine. Marsala wine is an Italian wine made in the area around Marsala, Sicily. Marsala wine is fortified using a process similar to the process used to make sherry. Fortified wine has been "fortified" with a liquid that has a higher alcohol content than the original wine. Usually, this process uses brandy.
The process used to make Marsala is called "in perpetuum" and involves mixing wine of different ages to produce a blend. Once the wines of different ages are blended, the wine is then fortified. The result is usually a sweeter wine like Madeira or Sherry.
The appeal of chicken Marsala recipes is that the chicken breasts are very tender and they cook very quickly. The secret behind this is that the chicken breasts are pounded very thin.
If you try to pan fry a chicken breast without pounding it thin first, it will take longer to cook the chicken through and will result in tough or overcooked chicken the outside will be overdone by the time the inside of the chicken is cooked properly. Pounding the chicken to an even ¼-inch thickness will guarantee that the chicken will cook quickly and evenly, giving you a juicy and tender chicken Marsala.
The best way to pound a chicken breast is to use this method:
- Place your cutting board on a stable surface.
- You may want to place a kitchen towel under the cutting board to reduce the noise from the pounding and to protect the surface beneath the cutting board.
- Place a large sheet of plastic wrap on the cutting board.
- Place a chicken breast on the plastic wrap.
- Fold the plastic wrap over the chicken.
- Using the flat part of your meat tenderizer, pound the chicken breast starting from the center of the breast.
- Pound the chicken breast until it is an even ¼-inch thick.
- Do this for all the chicken breasts you are cooking.
- 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts, pounded to ¼-inch thick
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- 4 ounces olive oil
- ½ cup Marsala wine
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms ( Cremini are nice but button mushrooms work just as well)
- ½ cup chicken stock
- Juice of ½ a lemon
- Mix together the all-purpose flour, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
- Coat the chicken with the flour mixture.
- Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium-high flame.
- Once the oil starts to shimmer with heat, place the chicken in the pan and fry until browned on the first side, about 2-3 minutes.
- Flip the chicken over and fry on the second side until browned as well.
- Remove the chicken to a plate and cover loosely with foil.
- Add the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms just start to brown.
- Pour the wine into the pan and bring to a boil while scraping the bottom of the pan with a rubber spatula.
- Add the chicken stock and lemon juice.
- Simmer until the sauce has thickened.
- Lower the heat to medium and add the chicken back to the pan.
- Cook for another five minutes.
- Serve with angel hair pasta.
Chicken Marsala Recipes
Variations on chicken Marsala recipes abound. Some are just variations on which type of mushrooms are used. I have even had chicken Marsala that was served with sliced Portobello mushrooms, which was delightful indeed. You can add a tablespoon of capers to the sauce for a slightly sharper flavor that will compliment the lemon and Marsala.
Veal Marsala is a fun alternative to chicken Marsala. Just use four veal cutlets in place of the chicken. Since veal has a subtler flavor than chicken, you might want to skip the lemon juice.