Monday, February 22, 2016

Chicken Marsala

Thank you Kenji Lopez-Alt!!! Thanks to his cookbook, The Food Lab, I've been able to cook a number of classics such as this chicken marsala dish (he calls this Chicken Cutlets with Mushroom Marsala Pan Sauce) with great success and with only minimal variations according to my own taste. In this case, I could not find Marsala wine in any of our local markets, so I substituted with Madeira and used a tad less tomato paste than called for. The results were delicious. Kenji knows how to impart the perfect umami flavor to his recipes which, in this case, was the addition of a mere teaspoon of soy sauce. Who knew? But it made all the difference in the world. The beauty of this dish is not only its rockin' flavor, but also its simplicity, especially when you are able to buy pre-cut thin cut chicken breasts so you don't have to slice them yourself at home.

6 pieces of thin-cut chicken breasts (or 3 chicken breasts, sliced in half lengthwise and lightly pounded, if needed)
Salt & pepper
1 cup flour
Vegetable oil

1 tbsp. unsalted butter

16 oz. sliced button mushrooms
1 large shallot, finely diced
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp. flour
1 tsp. tomato paste 
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 1/2 cups Marsala wine (ok to substitute with Madeira)
1 tbsp. lemon juice

3 tbsp. unsalted butter

Chopped fresh parsley or thyme leaves for garnish

1. Lightly salt and pepper the chicken breast pieces on both sides.

2. Heat 2-3 tbsp. of oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat until almost smoking. 

3. Dredge the chicken pieces on all sides with the flour. Add 3 pieces to the pan. Let cook for 4-5 minutes without flipping until nicely browned. Turn the chicken pieces over and let brown another 2-3 minutes.  

4. Once the chicken is just cooked through (press them with your fingertips and they should bounce back), remove to a platter and tent with foil. If the pan is dry, add another 1 tbsp. of oil to the same pan and when smoking hot, cook the remaining 3 pieces of chicken the same way. Remove to the platter, tent and set aside.

5. In the same pan, add 1 tbsp. unsalted butter and sliced mushrooms. Cook over medium heat 5-6 minutes until the mushrooms are well-browned. Add the chopped shallots and thyme and stir about 1 minute. 

6. Add 1 tsp. flour and tomato paste and cook about 1 minute stirring constantly.

7. Add the soy sauce and Marsala. Simmer for 5 minutes or until the wine is reduced to about 1 cup. 

8. Whisk in the lemon juice and 3 tbsp. unsalted butter. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed. 

9. Plate the chicken and pour sauce over. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and/or thyme leaves. 

 Finely diced shallot, sliced mushrooms, tomato paste, flour, soy sauce, lemon juice, and thyme sprigs.

 Thin cut chicken breasts. They are thin enough that you don't have to pound them to make them tender.

 Lightly season both sides with kosher salt and black pepper.

 Dredge the chicken in flour.

 Heat 2-3 tbsp. of vegetable oil in a large skillet until smoking hot, then add half of the chicken. Brown on both sides, remove and set aside. If the pan is dry, add an extra tablespoon of oil and brown the remaining chicken.

 Remove the cooked chicken to a platter or foil-lined baking sheet.

 Tent with foil and set aside.

 Melt 1 tbsp. of unsalted butter in the same pan.

 Saute the mushrooms first until well browned, then add the shallots and thyme. Stir and cook 1 minute.

 Add the tomato paste and flour and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

 Stir in the soy sauce.

 Add the Marsala. Simmer for 5 minutes or until the wine is reduced to about 1 cup.

 Stir in the lemon juice and 3 tbsp. of unsalted butter. Taste and season with a little extra salt and pepper, as needed.

Plate the chicken onto serving plates and top with the mushroom marsala pan sauce. Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs and/or parsley.

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