Chicken Marsala, like any dish that's been around for generations, comes in a variety of forms with all sorts of family secrets or preferences. I've prepared the easiest, good tasting recipe that I've been able to come up with for this dish and still be called a great Chicken Marsala. As in all the recipes that I post on this website, additional ingredients can be added to your liking. Not only that, I encourage you to do your own experimenting as well!
Brining is the act of soaking ingredients (in our case, chicken) in water with salt (and sometimes sugar). This soak causes salt to penetrate into the chicken meat and at the same time pulls more water in. The meat becomes more plump and flavorful. Brining a chicken breast prior to cooking makes it much easier to produce a tender, juicy breast. I brined my chicken breasts in a plastic bag with 4 cups water with 4 Tbs. table salt for one hour. After an hour, remove the breasts and rinse off the breasts (or they will be too salty).
I brought together the three brined chicken breasts (about 1/2 lb. or 250 g each), 1 cup sweet marsala wine, and 4 ounces sliced button mushrooms. I did not cut my breasts into thin pieces (to show that it's not necessary), but some people prefer a thinner cut. If you're one of them, go ahead and cut your breasts in half and poudn them down with a meat mallet. The sweet marsala wine should be of drinkable quality. I cut the mushrooms into thick cuts, but quartering, halving, or even leaving the mushrooms whole work well.
Salt and pepper the breasts. Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil on medium-high and pan fry the breasts for a few minutes. The exact time depends on the thickeness of the breasts. The breast will change color while it's cooking from pink to white. When the bottom half has changed color, flip the breasts over and cook the raw side of the breast.
Here's where extra attentiveness is important. The objective is to cook the breast until it has just fully cooked. In the Grilled Skinless Chicken Breast article, I advocated learning to tell is chicken breast is done by touch. Well, here's where it comes in handy. If you know how chicken breast feels (level of springiness, hardness, etc.) then use this method to check one when the breasts are fully cooked. I once asked the chef at my local Buca di Beppo's how he made his Chicken Marsala so tender, and he responded mysteriously, "You have to watch the chicken. No, really watch it. You will know when it is done." Well, I'm saying you need to watch and press on it once in a while. If you're not familiar with the touch technique, then simply cut a hole into the thickest part of a breast and see what color liquid flows out. If the liquid has tints of color and is opaque, then keep cooking the chicken. If the liquid is clear (like oily water), then the chicken breast is done.
Remove the fully cooked chicken to a plate and throw the mushrooms into the pan. Don't worry if there are burnt bits of chicken still in the pan because these will help flavor the sauce. If there are any larger chunks of chicken, remove them because they will overcook and become stringy and tough. Spread the mushrooms into a single layer and allow them to cook for a minute.
Pour the cup of sweet Marsala wine into the pan a this point and allow it to reduce for a couple minutes. We want it to thicken slightly, but not so much that it coats the back of a spoon.
Now pour in four tablespoons heavy cream and mix until integrated.
Stir occassionally until this mixture reduces to the point where it will coat the back of a spoon or leave a trail at the bottom of the pan when scraped
(see picture below).
At this point, reintroduce the breasts and roll them around in the sauce until they have been coated with sauce and have warmed up again.
Turn off the heat and move the breasts to a serving tray, covering with mushrooms and sauce. The breast meat should be perfectly tender and juicy while the sauce clings to any available surface. Tina described the chicken as amazingly soft and the mushrooms as "little bombs of flavor". At first she was skeptical about chicken marsala, but after tasting this, she was convinced of how delicious this dish can be.}?>
Chicken Marsala (serves six)
|3 chicken breasts||brine||season||cook medium-high||remove||coat with sauce|
|4 oz. (120 g) button mushrooms||slice||cook 1 min.||reduce||reduce|
|1 cup sweet marsala wine|
|4 Tbs. heavy cream|
Award Image: http://home.comcast.net/~night99/blog/unigue.gif
You might want to correct the spelling on this sentence:
"Turn off the heat and move the breasts to a serving tray, sovering with mushrooms and sauce."
I think it should be 'covering' but if it isn't, would you explain what 'sovering' is?
Thanks, love the site. If my reason-for-living liked mushrooms, I'd make this for dinner tomorrow...
Thanks, I think I fixed all the typos.
This is Alex. While we are on the subject of typos, "If your not familiar with the touch technique,..." in paragraph 7 should read, "If you're not familiar with the touch technique,..."
Anyway, I thought I would share my chicken Marsala recipe. I consider this to be one of my specialties, and coming from Italian immigrant-rich NY, I've had a lot of good and bad chicken Marsala.
I will definitely try out your method as it seems less labor intensive than mine. Since I do not have the benefit of the format you use, I'll just list it out in a typical chronological order that I would do things in:
1) hammer the chicken until it is flat (I do not slice to make it thin, but beat on the thing until it is less than a 1/4" thick, or about 1/3 of its original thickness)
2) coat the chicken in a mixture of flour, salt, and pepper.
3) fry the chicken pieces in a mixture of butter and oil until the chicken is HALF cooked. remove chicken.
4)saute the mushrooms until half done in the oil/butter mixture.
5) add the chicken back in (both chicken and mushrooms should be half done). Add in Marsala wine until it covers most of the chicken. cover the pan, and allow the chicken to simmer in there until it is JUST done.
The one problem with my recipe (besides being labor intensive) is that the chicken's flavor is highly dependent on the quality of the Marsala wine, since that is the only thing it is simmering in. I usually taste the Marsala wine beforehand to judge how I believe the chicken will turn out. I then add potentially heavy cream, spices, or sometimes even beer (I know, sounds sacreligious, but sometimes the Marsala wine is that bad).
Disclaimer: I do not list ingredient quantities not because I am cruel or detail deficient, but rather because I just want to give an idea of the process I use, as it differs substantially from Michael's approach.
I type up these articles as quickly as I can and unfortunately don't have an editor. I fixed the typo.
Your recipe is quite similar to many others that I've tried in the past. Thanks for sharing - maybe someone will try both methods and see which one works best for them.
If you do try my recipe, let us know how it worked out for you.
This recipe won't work well in an oven. The sauce needs to be reduced with the mushrooms for it to work and that's not going to happen in the oven properly. I suggest looking online for a recipe for Chicken Marsala designed for either large numbers of people or for the oven and scale that recipe.
re: dry marsala wine
I don't feel that flavor of dry marsala wine results in what I expect from chicken marsala after it has been reduced. The flavor difference is intensified and is pretty noticable. I suggest sticking with sweet marsala wine.
hu hu huhuhuhu (to the tune of Beavis & Butthead)
Second, I prepared Chicken Marsala for my parents last month, and used a recipe that didn't use cream. For those that are trying to avoid dairy, please be aware that this is an option - I just used chicken stock to add moistness.
With that said, I'm going to try your version later in the month - it looks delicious!
Well done sir, well done. BTW, love the grid idea.
Nice, minimal recipe.
Note that Marsala comes in both sweet and dry--which you use will make a difference in the flavor!
Personally, I like my chicken in bite-size pieces--1"x1" or so. They cook [u:618259cd5e]real[/u:618259cd5e] fast though.
If you add a bit of corn syrup to the brining mixture, the chicken will carmelize (brown) faster. (Very small amount required 1/4-1/2 tsp per breast--this is dependant upon surface area, so the smaller your chicken pieces, the more you need.) (I know, this should be quantified, but I haven't gotten to it yet...)
typo fixed. Thanks for catching that!
Dave Newark, Delaware
"Face piles of trials with smiles, it riles them to believe that you preceive the web they weave and keep on thinking free....The Moody Blues"
I make dinner for my family before I head off to work,(3p-11p) so I won't know how it went over until tomorrow. I'll let you know.
ANYWAY- I had Chicken Marsala last night at "Chef Allen's here in Reading, Pa. I was stuffed with mozarella and adagio cheese, and covered with "red smashed potatoes. (Is the cheese called asagio or adagio?) Anyway, I liked the idea of the cheese stuffed in there.
This is the 1st time I have ever been on this site but, I know I will return. I appreciate how the recipes are laid out and the pictures.
(Cooking for Dummies)
Thanks! [/color:c8a1e3c206] ;)
First time I tried to double the recipe... It doesn't work well unless you have a large enough sauce pan. The marsala will never thicken.
Second time... The chicken was too thick, and it came out a little dry.
Third time... I cut the chicken into 1" x 1" pieces. This turned out pretty well.
Thank goodness the sweet marsala wine sauce is on clearance at my local store, I am going to keep trying until I find a way to make this that works for me.
Anyway, it sounds like a very easy and delicious recipe and I intend to try it soon. Thanks for taking the time and effort to share it with those of us whose cooking abilities don't rival those of Emeril!
At the "Stir occassionally until this mixture reduces to the point where it will coat the back of a spoon or leave a trail at the bottom of the pan when scraped" it may have been helpful to have an estimated timeframe for this as I panicked and added more heavy cream.
Thanks for the great site.
I would also like to know what is considered a "good", or even "decent" Marsala wine.
Anyway, I love your web site; it is extremely helpful! Keep up the great work!
A good or decent wine is one that you don't mind drinking. If it doesn't taste good enough to drink, it's probably not going to taste good in your dish - especially if it's concentrated by reduction.
Recipes can be posted to the Recipes Forum or, if you wish to submit them for publication, then they should be written up and sent with pictures to email@example.com
Good question! I would prefer if the images were at least 640 pixels in the longest dimension. I've added this to the Article Submission Program Page
I make veal, chicken and pork marsala using a very similar method. I use Florio Sweet and reduce it a little. Rather than cream, though I'll try it next time, I use a couple of cubes of demi glace (frozen in an ice tray), so more reduction is unnecessary. Sometimes I'll use shallots, steaming them in the marsala and sometimes I'll add a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters to the mushrooms as they cook. As in your recipe, I don't use herbs for veal or chicken, but I do add a small amout of rubbed sage to pork.
From the looks of the nutrition info available on their website each 30mL serving of wine has 2g sugar content. Since wines don't normally list nutrition info, it's hard to compare against other brands - but it is sweeter than their white wine and red cooking wine, so I would guess that it is a sweet and not dry wine. If you have a bottle, you can go ahead and taste it. Some cooking wines actually contain salt - which you may want to avoid as it makes it difficult to determine how much salt you are adding to your dish (just like salted butter makes it difficult to consistently season food).
Thanks in advance for the help.
Kudos on this great site, wonder how I missed it so far.
Chicken Marsala is one of my favorite dishes and I've used a few different brands. Pompeian is usable in a pinch, but as the marsala wine is the primary flavor source, I would recommend upgrading to a "non-supermarket" marsala. (I don't think I could ever see myself kicking back with a glass of pompeian after dinner. If it doesn't go in a glass, it doesn't belong in the pan either.) I have had a lot of success with florio sweet marsala. It's usually between $10-15 at wine shops and will be good for 4-5 batches.
PS, Depending on what's on hand, I switch between the Marsala cooking wine and imported Sangria. LOL!
Great site, congratulations Michael!
anything full bodied red tending to 'sweet' will work just fine.
As I had frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts, and I was in a hurry, I mixed them with the brine and microwaved on "defrost" for several cycles. MI didn't completely defrost, but then cut the chicken into pieces after microwaving, then rinsed and cooked up chicken as recommended. Marvellous flavor! Very tender! Thanks so much for this technique!
About the wine--I live in wine country (Finger Lakes region of New York State), so had a variety of local wines to choose from. I mixed a fairly dry white local table wine with some lovely local sherry (I swear I can taste hazelnuts in it!); the sherry would have been too sweet and overpowering, and the dry white was too uninteresting. I think the secret is mixing to taste; it added a truly wonderful flavor to the chicken!
I also added only 1-2 tablespoons of half and half, then thickened with corn starch, and served over egg noodles. Absolutely delicious! You are quite right--this is a superb recipe that lends itself to tinkering. Many, many thanks! A new staple for my recipe box!
All the best,
at first i kept thinking what everybody was going to want on there pizza after i tasted it, but when i did i was like WOW this is damn good and when i let every body else try it they thought the same thing so i wanted to thank the author for a wonderful meal last night.
Keep it strong for all us engineers out there!
But seriously, what is up with that crazy Captcha confirmation code business in the phpBB? You'd get way more comments if you removed the complexity
I did get more comments - a LOT more, and not the variety that you or I would want. At least now, the spammers are more or less manageable. I still have to delete spam comments on a daily basis even with the crazy captcha.
I have to say, I was surprised not to see instructions to marinate the chicken in the marsala... is that not a normal thing to do for this dish?
Normally, I marinade the chicken in enough Marsala to cover it and toss in one or two minced garlic cloves.
I will be trying it your way soon, that's for sure!
For those of you looking for decent, inexpensive marsala wines... I usually either get either Columbo or Lombardo (sweet for either) and find they both give great flavor. I don't think I've ever paid more than $8-$10 for either brand.
I've never actually reduced and thickened the sauce though... usually I just make some pasta and marinara to have on the side - I'm sure that's terrible!
Any side dish suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!
Thanks for your positive comments, but I just want to say that criticism is a good thing, pointing out typos is a good thing, asking for grammar mistakes to be corrected is a good thing. This is the web, I can update and fix immediately, if there's a thousand eyeballs looking at my work and critiquing it, I can make the necessary adjustments to make the article as good as it can be - certainly the last thing I want to do is ignore nitpickers. (I might not act on the feedback because I understand I can't please everyone, but the information is greatly appreciated. I definitely don't want to be writing in a black hole.)
thanks for any guidance ahead of time.
Yes, just make sure it's full defrosted before you start.
I think the photo shows linguine, but these days I use capellini. Just boil four quarts of water, add a tablespoon or more of salt to the water, add the pasta and boil for a couple minutes less than what it says on the packaging. Test the pasta to see if it's "done". (Bite the pasta and see if the inside is still white, if it is then it's not done. If it's cooked through but still chewy inside, it's done. If it's soft all the way through it's overcooked.)
I have a 50 + year old spaghetti meat sauce that is very good and I would like to pass it on here. Where do I post it? It is not a quick make (5 hours) but well worth it. Let me know if you think it would be of interest.
Michael Chu said...
Recipes can be posted to the Recipes Forum or, if you wish to submit them for publication, then they should be written up and sent with pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org
Did Rick2U ever submit/post his recipe? Where might I find it?
recipes are a matter of taste - so the short answer is no, it does not have to be sweet.
example: the couple next to us ordered a tableside ceaser salad. as the fixings commenced they requested to omit the anchovy. wish granted. now, I personally consider the hint of anchovy to be one of the defining flavors of a ceaser salad - so did they have a ceaser salad or something else?
I personally don't care for sweet wines; I use a drier one for my chicken dishes. "traditionally" this dish uses a sweet one, so did I or didn't I? <g>
I do appreciate when spelling mistakes are pointed out so I can fix them - but it usually works better to just email them to me at email@example.com
i'd like to add this-- an easy way to flour meat pieces, should you choose to do so, is to put a cup or so flour in a baggie and toss a few pieces inside.
canned mushrooms (no-salt-added variety is available) save me a heck of a lot of time. plus you can throw in the mushroom-water for a little extra flavour. :D.
I agree with your attitude about people correcting typo's etc. At least it means it will get fixed, and the people who are pointing it out are not being mean or anything, they are simply pointing out the errors. What is wrong with that?
I don't cook much, but I will be trying out this recipe soon. Just not sure if I can even FIND a Marsala wine in South Africa? Never even heard of it, there must be one around somewhere, we have plenty wine farms.
Along with the Marsala, we tried out your Corn Fritter recipe. It wasn't bad but I fear it is not one I shall probably repeat. However, based on the scant information you gave about the sauce you made, I whipped something up and the sauce is certainly something I shall find other uses for - it was delicious.
The last portion of the main meal was a Caraway Rye bread that I have worked up a recipe for.
For desert we made your chocolate cake recipe with the buttercream frosting. Both were delicious. I added a teaspoon of lemon oil extract to the frosting to give it a hint of lemon flavor. My family loved it. I want to thank the many commentors on your site as they were very helpful in my efforts with the buttercream. It would not come together for me at first so, based on comments, I took my mixing bowl and set it back over boiling water for about a minute to soften the butter up and it came together wonderfully after that.
I have also experimented with both your English Toffee recipe and Peanut Brittle. I have added my own modifications to both and greatly enjoy the results.
Thank you for the wonderful site. I plan to try out many more of your recipes.
You say that the key to a great chicken marsala is good Marsala wine. Specifically, what kind of wine should I be looking for? Can I find Marsala wine at any liquor store or is it a special item? What makes it so special compared to a white wine? The sweetness?
1. Roasted garlic is the PERFECT FRIGGIN THING for mashed potatoes. Once I got the shell off, the bigger fatty garlic cloves were practically filled with mashed potato substance already. This is an awesome technique that I would never have thought of.
2. I've never brined my meat before, and ended up using the hour of brining to help defrost the chicken breasts. The chicken was friggin PLUMP! My goodness, those were some plump chicken breasts. By the way, there's only enough sauce for three breasts even if you stretch it by the given proportions plus a little. Anyway, 9/10 would brine again.
3. This website is awesome, and so is this recipe. I'm going to go back to eating it now.
This site was really informative and the simple recipe was great. Of course I added spices but followed the procedure to bring and cook the chicken marsala. I used dry marsala that was totally drinkable, as I read on other websites that it is a personal preference and I tend to like savory over sweet dishes.
I like a lot of sauce so will increase the quantities the next time. I enjoy simple cooking without having to use a whole lot of ingredients that are not on my shelf so thank you for sharing.
Florio works around here.