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Weeknight Chicken Marsala

Chicken Marsala is one of those classic Italian dishes that you see on restaurant menus everywhere but probably rarely attempt making on your own at home. It’s a fail-safe item to order, thanks to that reliably delicious sweet and savory mushroom sauce. So why not make it a fail-safe dinner in your own kitchen? It is, after all, nothing more than some chicken breasts cooked in a quick pan sauce… It’s easy enough that a cook of any level can handle it and it’s on the table in just about thirty minutes. It may be a classic, but it’s a quick one, and it makes for the perfect restaurant-quality weeknight meal.

Chicken Marsala is all about the sauce, which should be velvety and have the perfect balance of sweet and savory flavors. We have a few tricks up our sleeve for the velvety texture (more on that in a minute), but the sweetness mostly comes from the Marsala wine. You can find a good quality Marsala wine for around five dollars, so there’s just no reason to resort to using ‘Marsala cooking wine’ which has other additions like salt and will only mess with the balance of your sauce. A squeeze of lemon is all you need at the end to bring the sweet and savory notes into harmony, but white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar work just fine too.

Now, for the velvety texture. There are a few ingredients in this recipe that help to create that silky mouthfeel. The first is flour. When you coat the chicken breasts in flour, it not only thickens the sauce, but also ensures that there are lots of flavorful brown bits to scrape up and flavor it. The second is butter, which is whisked in at the end and creates an emulsion so that the sauce is nearly creamy. The third, which is a little bit of a cooking trick, is to dissolve a packet of unflavored gelatin in your chicken stock. This adds collagen to stock that isn’t homemade and is a great tip to add body to many kinds of sauces.

As long as you make sure to pound the chicken breasts thin, this classic Chicken Marsala shouldn’t take you more than thirty minutes to get to the dinner table. Serve it alongside mashed potatoes, polenta, egg noodles, or even rice, and you’ve got a reliable weeknight staple that’s always sure to please.

Chicken Marsala

40 minutes to prepare serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups Marsala wine
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 10 oz cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 3 medium shallots, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Fresh lemon juice, to taste
  • Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
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Preparation

  1. In a small bowl, mix together Marsala and stock and sprinkle gelatin over the top. Set aside.
  2. Cover the chicken breasts with plastic wrap or place them in a large zip-top bag and pound until no thicker than 1/2 inch. Season generously with salt and pepper and dredge in flour, shaking off excess.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add chicken and cook until browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to paper towels to drain.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add mushrooms to skillet. Cook until mushrooms release their juices and begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Add shallots, garlic, and thyme, and cook 2 minutes more.
  5. Pour Marsala mixture into the pan and bring to a boil, whisking constantly and scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan. Continue cooking until liquid has reduced by three-quarters. Add butter and whisk until sauce is the consistency of cream. Season with salt and pepper, taste, and add a squeeze of lemon juice as needed.
  6. Return chicken to pan and spoon sauce over the cutlets, letting chicken warm through in the sauce. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with mashed potatoes, egg noodles, or rice, and enjoy!

Adapted from Vikalinka.

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