Thursday, February 12, 2009

Chicken Marsala

When I was in my very early 20's, I worked in a fancy Italian restaurant whenever I was on break from college. It was a fantastic, lucrative summer job and, as a perk, I got to eat some pretty phenomenal food. One of my very favorite dishes on the menu was their Chicken Marsala. Now perhaps you've had the kind of Chicken Marsala I most often see- a chicken breast floating in a brown gravy-looking sauce with a few mushrooms tossed in. And, hey, if that works for you, then great. That's not what this was... this was a dish that included tender, bite-size pieces of chicken, tons of fresh mushrooms, all tossed in a wine-rich, intensely flavorful sauce. Not as a thick as a gravy, but thick enough to top a pasta. Ohhhh... yum. Of course, people also had to shell out $17.99 for the privilege of eating that delicious Marsala.

I searched a whole lot of recipes before finally stumbling upon one on the back of the Holland House cooking wine bottle that seemed like it might approximate that dish. I still tweaked it and adjusted things, but I had a starting point. After more than eight years of adaptations, I can say I am completely satisfied with this recipe:

Chicken Marsala

  • 3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in strips or bite-sized pieces (strips are prettier, little pieces are easier for little children!)
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cups asst. mushrooms, sliced (I like a combination of button and baby bella)
  • 3/4 cup marsala cooking wine OR 3/4 cup marsala wine + 1/4 tsp salt (Cooking wine has salt added already; I actually prefer to use drinking wine and add the salt myself because I think it has better flavor. You can find Marsala in with the dessert wines, usually, or in with the Italian wines)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp parsley
  • 1/4 tsp rosemary or poultry seasoning
  • 1 lb. pasta


Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in large skillet over medium heat. Saute mushrooms until browned, about 8-10 minutes. Remove and set aside. Melt another 1 Tbsp. butter. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Add chicken to skillet and cook through. Remove. Melt remaining 2 Tbsp butter and add flour. Stir constantly with wooden spoon or small whisk until the flour and butter are incorporated and lightly browned, about one minute. Stir in wine, water, parsley, and rosemary. Bring to a quick boil, then immediatly reduce heat. Sauce will thicken as it simmers. Add mushrooms and chicken to sauce and warm through, about 2-3 minutes. Serve over pasta. (We prefer linguine or angelhair.)


Serves: 4 hungry people

(Image from Harry's Fresh because, well, mine was scarfed down too quickly!!!)
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Lynn said...

This looks really good. I am going to have to try it sometime.

FishMama said...

Good call on the real marsala. Food Network would be proud.;) Sounds delicious.

Kate said...

I love chicken marsala. I've never made it with the real marsala though. I'll have to try!

Sherry said...

This sounds delish! :D Have you made it with apple juice instead of wine?

JessieLeigh said...

Sherry- I've never made it with apple juice before. I'm sure it would make a tasty sauce, but I imagine the taste would be significantly different since the wine is the primary source of flavor in this dish. The alcohol DOES all cook out, if that's a concern, or larger wine stores might carry an alcohol-free version. If you try it with apple juice, though, please let me know how it turns out!

Amy @ Finer Things said...

Looks so yummy... but the hubs would not be a fan. The man isn't crazy about pasta. I know. Weird. You can put it on the menu when I come visit sometime! ;-)