… from the California Kitchen
How you doin’? Chicken Marsala is the perfect lower calorie Italian entrée. It is not cheese-laden and heavy like Chicken or Veal Parmesan. The addition of mushrooms adds wonderful flavor to the dish as well.
But first things first… let’s start from the very beginning. A sauce using Marsala wine can be traced back to the introduction of French chefs into high Sicilian culture in the early 1800s by Queen Maria Carolina of Naples and Sicily. Queen Maria was Marie Antoinette’s sister (you remember, let them cake, Marie). As Queen, Maria did not believe the local cuisine to be sophisticated enough for her court. Of course, it is also probable that it may have originated with Italian and/or English families who lived in western Sicily, where Marsala wine is produced.
Chicken marsala (Italian: Scaloppine di pollo al Marsala) is actually an Italian American dish of chicken escalope in a Marsala wine sauce. It is a variation of traditional Italian scaloppine dishes, of which there are many varieties throughout Italy.
Thin, pounded slices of chicken breast are coated in flour, briefly sautéed, and then removed from the pan; then pan drippings are used to make a Marsala wine reduction sauce. The sauce is made by reducing the wine to nearly the consistency of a syrup while adding garlic. The sauce is then poured over the chicken, which has been kept in a warm oven and served immediately.
I made this dish just last week. It is a delicious, classic chicken and mushroom dish which is lightly braised with Marsala wine and mushrooms. Though it is often served with or over pasta, I prefer to serve Chicken Marsala with steamed asparagus, broccoli or broccoli rabe.
There are some great alternatives to chicken; you can make Veal Marsala (a little more expensive) or you can make Pork Marsala (close to the price of chicken in today’s prices). While the proteins are different, you still get the wonderful signature flavor of Marsala wine on a tender escalope of meat.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
1/4 cup all-purpose flour for coating
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded 1/4 inch thick
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1/4 cup cooking sherry
Chefs Secret: I use both oil and butter when sautéing chicken breasts—oil is for the crisp texture and butter is for the wonderful flavor—it will be perfect every time. As an alternative cooking method, braise the chicken breasts in a mixture of Marsala wine and butter.
Quip of the Day: “A good piece of chicken can make anybody believe in the existence of God." ~~Sherman Alexie
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