Classic Veal Marsala Dinner
After purchasing some nice looking veal cutlets at the market, I thought about making classic Veal Marsala for dinner. With the right ingredients, this is one very quick and easy meal to prepare that’s usually a big success in our house even with the kids. Problem was I didn’t have one important ingredient – Marsala wine.
Hard to believe I couldn’t find any Marsala wine in the house but I did find a bottle of Madeira, a fortified wine that comes from Portugal. There are different styles of Madeira, from a pale blond color to a deep tawny red and very dry to very sweet.
What is Madeira Wine?
Madeiras are usually drunk as aperitifs and dessert wines depending on their dryness and sweetness, but I typically use them only for cooking. In my pantry, there were two bottles of Madeira. One was an inexpensive California version and the other a more expensive Sandeman Fine Rich product from Madeira Portugal.
There is no comparison in taste between the two. The Madeira from Portugal is worth the extra bucks, but both will work for this recipe. If you are interested in learning more about the various tastes of Madeira wine, there is a good site called MadeiraWineGuide.
Another Important Ingredient
The other important ingredient to this dish is demi-glace, a richly concentrated brown stock that has been reduced to a glaze. Also used to make classic chicken and veal Marsala, demi-glace is one of those ingredients that are hard to make at home because you have to start with pounds of beef and veal bones that have been roasted and then simmered for hours and hours in a huge pot. If you’re not careful and you burn the stock while it’s reducing, you might as well throw the whole batch out.
Not that I’m suggesting you don’t try making it yourself. You can find a recipe for making demi-glace at home at GatewayGourmet. I’ve made it at home a few times and it was an interesting experience, but I’d much rather use one of the commercial products you can find on the market today. One I really like is Demi Glace Gold and you may have heard me rave about it in some of my other recipes.
Can you make this recipe without the demi-glace? Sure, I have a recipe for Chicken Marsala that excludes the demi-glace and you can just substitute the Madeira for the Marsala and the veal for the chicken. The results are good but not the same as when you make it with real demi-glace. And please avoid the fake stuff you can purchase in an envelope at the supermarket. That artificial alternative is just beef bouillon, salt, sugar and a bunch of chemicals.
This addition was my wife’s idea. The kids wanted sautéed artichokes with their dinner so my wife opened up a can of artichoke hearts in water, rinsed them well in cold water, squeezed out the excess water and then sautéed them in a little olive oil and butter. We served the artichokes separately to the kids but added them to the sauce for us.
Two points. One, only use jarred or canned artichoke hearts in water not oil. You can’t get the unpleasant flavor of the oil out of the artichoke. Second, be sure to rinse the artichokes well before using. We have tried sautéing them without a good rinse and you could still taste the preservatives in the water and the kids wouldn’t eat them. Fresh artichoke hearts are better yet but a lot more work.
Chicken Marsala Perfected
By the way, I have written an eCookbook called Chicken Marsala Perfected that you can download to your computer and might be interested in. It’s more than a recipe for chicken Marsala but a cooking lesson for sautéing anything just like a professional chef. The recipe was given to me from Chef Ricco who you see in my blog and Ask A Chef feature. It’s filled with tips and techniques for making this classic dish as well as veal and steak Marsala and gives you the technique for making dozens of pan sauces.