My dad makes the. best. chicken. marsala. ever. For years, I’ve watched him make this insanely good dish and I’ve finally mustered the courage to take it on.
I really have to thank my wonderful dad for teaching me so much about cooking. Since I was a little kid, I remember stirring tomato sauce as instructed, tasting pasta to make sure it was al dente, and dipping my fingers in his glass of red wine. He’s truly a great cook — and an even better storyteller. Dinners with my father are never short of entertaining or delicious.
Chicken Marsala is one of those recipes that has Italian roots but is actually more of an Italian-American dish. It would be difficult to find it in your typical real-deal restaurant in Italy, and if you did, it would be veal instead of chicken.
The Italian root part? Marsala wine. Similar to Sherry or Port, Marsala wine is produced in the Sicilian town of the same name. Chicken (or veal in Italy) Marsala is also a type of Italian dish known as scaloppine, which consists of thinly sliced meat dredged in flour and sautéed with different sauces.
This Chicken Marsala is very easy to make on a weeknight, and you could serve it a couple different ways. For a heavier, comfort-food-to-the-max Chicken Marsala, serve this over linguine, fettuccine, or creamy polenta. For a lighter meal, serve it with a light lemon & arugula salad or delicate roasted vegetables.
During my busy season, (which is now, in case you couldn’t tell from my hibernating blog) I crave for those Sundays when I have all day to relax and mosey around while something delicious is bubbling ever so gently on the stove.
Those days are harder to come by lately, as all my free time is mostly spent catching up. This season, I learned that working 18 days in a row is sure to lead to an empty fridge, an explosive hamper, and minimal patience and moseying time.
That’s where dad’s Chicken Marsala saved the day last week. I wanted something comforting and delicious, but I didn’t have much time or energy to spare. In an overtired stupor, I remembered dad’s Chicken Marsala and immediately called him for a refresher.
It was better than I even remembered. Silky, savory Marsala sauce cuddles up to perfectly-cooked chicken breasts and delicate mushrooms. Matched with that just-enough hint of lemon and the earthy fresh sage, it was a perfect we-can-do-this weeknight meal.
Sometimes it feels impossible to make it to the store every week, plan 5 or 6 days worth of home-cooked meals, and then make those meals happen, all the while staying afloat amongst the laundry, dishes, lunches, work, exercise and oh yeah, relationships (pets too!) — but I find that taking the time to make something delicious brings me back to center.
Not to say that the occasional and well-deserved night off from the kitchen isn’t a great idea — some nights (aka just this past Monday) call for your favorite pizza or takeout — but in general, I know that for me, cooking at home provides me with a sense of stability and wellness. It’s a chance to catch up with Matt (and our cat, Tony, who is always curious to find out what’s on the table) and reconnect to what I love most: food and family.
Here’s to more of that!
This recipe is simple and forgiving. You can easily make more or less depending on how many mushrooms you’d like or how many people you’re feeding. Taste as you go and don’t be afraid to wing it a little!
- 2-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced thinly lengthwise
- flour, as needed
- 1 cup or so of Marsala wine
- 1-2 cups unsalted chicken broth
- unsalted butter
- half a lemon
- fresh sage
- 8-16 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms you can also use a variety of your choosing, but I like baby bella. Go with what you have and is easy to find in your area.
- Season chicken with salt + pepper.
- Lightly coat chicken in flour and shake off excess.
- Heat saute pan or heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat.
- Add butter and/or olive oil to pan and sear chicken on both sides. To achieve a beautiful golden brown sear, try to move your chicken as little as possible once you place it in the hot pan. Let it sit for a few minutes undisturbed before peaking at the edges – look for some golden action!
- Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
- Add mushrooms to pan, season with salt and pepper, and cook, adding more fat if necessary.
- Remove from pan and set aside.
- Add chicken back to hot pot or pan and deglaze with Marsala wine.
- When reduced by half, add broth and let simmer gently, seasoning as needed, until chicken is cooked through. About 20 minutes or so.
- Add mushrooms back in. Taste the broth! Does it need more seasoning?
- Add flour and butter to thicken the sauce, using a brilliant shortcut-roux method: combine equal parts room-temperature butter and flour with a fork until it’s the consistency of something resembling a smooth paste. Or sticky-tack! (remember that?!)
- Add the shortcut-roux into the pot and stir, allowing the sauce to thicken. Serve with finely julienned sage and a squeeze of fresh lemon on top.