A Classic Chicken Marsala Recipe
Chicken Marsala is one of my all-time favorite recipes. There is something about the sweetness of the Marsala wine that gives this dish a wonderful flavor.
The cooking technique for making chicken Marsala is similar to chicken piccata, pan fry the chicken breasts, deglaze the pan with wine and add the other ingredients to make a pan sauce.
In the past, I have called the cooking technique "saute." Still, I now understand that sauteing has more to do with cooking smaller, identically sized ingredients. Think diced carrots or cubed chicken or beef.
You'll hear many cooks say to "saute a chicken breast," but now I think of it as pan-fry a chicken breast because of the size of the breast. So you aren't going to have the breasts "jump" in the pan.
You may be more familiar with Veal Marsala, another classic Italian dish almost precisely the same as this Chicken Marsala, except it is made with veal. I enjoy both, but veal is much more expensive and sometimes harder to find. And then some don't like eating veal, so this is a good option.
About Chicken Marsala
Chicken Marsala is a classic Italian dish that has gained popularity all around the world for its flavorful combination of tender chicken, rich Marsala wine, and earthy mushrooms. This delectable dish showcases the best of Italian cuisine with its simplicity and depth of flavors.
The star of Chicken Marsala is undoubtedly the Marsala wine, a fortified wine hailing from the Italian region of Sicily. Its distinct sweetness and nutty undertones lend a unique flavor profile to the dish. The chicken breasts are typically pounded thin and then sautéed until golden brown, ensuring a juicy and succulent result. The mushrooms, often cremini or button, are sliced and sautéed alongside the chicken, infusing their earthy essence into the sauce.
The sauce itself is a harmonious blend of Marsala wine, chicken broth, and butter, creating a velvety and aromatic coating for the chicken and mushrooms. The sauce is reduced to intensify the flavors and create a luscious texture. Some variations may also include additional ingredients such as garlic, shallots, or fresh herbs like thyme or parsley to further enhance the taste.
What To Serve With?
Chicken Marsala is typically served with a side of pasta, such as linguine or fettuccine, to soak up the flavorful sauce. The combination of tender chicken, savory mushrooms, and a savory-sweet Marsala wine sauce creates a symphony of flavors that delight the palate.
Despite its sophisticated flavors, Chicken Marsala is relatively simple to prepare, making it an ideal choice for both weeknight dinners and special occasions. It has become a beloved staple in many households and is often featured on the menus of Italian restaurants worldwide.
What Other Proteins Can You Serve with Marsala Sauce?
While Chicken Marsala is a popular and traditional choice, Marsala sauce can be paired with various other proteins to create equally delicious and satisfying dishes. Here are some alternative proteins that work well with Marsala sauce:
- Veal Marsala is a classic Italian dish that mirrors Chicken Marsala in preparation. Thinly sliced veal cutlets are cooked in the Marsala sauce, creating a tender and flavorful dish.
- Pork Marsala is another delightful option. Thinly sliced pork tenderloin or chops can be cooked in the Marsala sauce, resulting in a savory and succulent meal.
- Beef: While not as traditional, beef can also be paired with Marsala sauce for a rich and hearty dish. Sliced beef tenderloin or sirloin can be seared and then cooked in the Marsala sauce until tender.
- Tofu: Tofu can be substituted as the protein of choice for a vegetarian or vegan option. Firm tofu can be sliced and sautéed before being simmered in the Marsala sauce, absorbing the flavors and creating a satisfying plant-based dish.
- Mushrooms: If you prefer a vegetarian dish without any animal protein, consider a mushroom Marsala. A medley of mushrooms, such as cremini, portobello, or shiitake, can be sautéed and then simmered in the Marsala sauce, creating a rich and earthy vegetarian option.
Who Invented Chicken Marsala and What Is Its History?
The exact origins of Chicken Marsala are not definitively known, as the dish has evolved over time and its precise creation cannot be attributed to a single individual.
Marsala wine has a rich history dating back to the late 18th century. It was created by English merchant John Woodhouse, who settled in Marsala, Sicily, and began producing a fortified wine similar to Spanish sherry. Marsala wine's popularity quickly spread, becoming an important export product for the region.
The dish Chicken Marsala likely emerged as a way to utilize the rich and flavorful Marsala wine in cooking. The marriage of chicken, mushrooms, and Marsala wine created a harmonious combination of tastes that became a culinary sensation.
Chicken Marsala gained significant popularity in the United States during the mid-20th century as Italian cuisine became increasingly celebrated. Italian-American communities embraced the dish, and it eventually made its way onto the menus of Italian restaurants across the country. Today, Chicken Marsala is considered a classic Italian-American dish and remains a beloved favorite among diners.
The beauty of Chicken Marsala lies in its simplicity and ability to showcase the flavors of the Marsala wine. The dish has endured throughout the years due to its delightful taste, comforting nature, and versatility in pairing with various proteins and side dishes. Whether enjoyed in Sicily or Italian-American communities worldwide, Chicken Marsala continues to be a cherished culinary creation.
Do they make chicken marsala in Italy?
While Chicken Marsala is a popular dish in Italian-American cuisine, it is not commonly found in traditional Italian cuisine or on menus in Italy. The dish is more closely associated with Italian-American culinary traditions.
In Italy, Marsala wine is highly regarded and used in various culinary applications, but Chicken Marsala, as it is known in the United States, is not a traditional Italian recipe. Italian cuisine emphasizes regional specialties and local ingredients, and while Marsala wine is a staple in Sicilian cuisine, its use in cooking often takes different forms.
In Sicily, where Marsala wine originates, it is more commonly used in savory dishes like stews, braises, and sauces, including those featuring meat and fish. However, these dishes may not be called "Chicken Marsala" specifically.
That being said, it's important to note that culinary influences and variations exist, and Italian cuisine is diverse both within regions and internationally. It is possible that there are individual Italian chefs or restaurants that have adapted or created their own interpretations of Chicken Marsala. However, it is not a dish that is widely recognized or consumed as a traditional Italian recipe in Italy.
If you were to visit Italy, you would likely encounter a rich array of other delicious Italian dishes and regional specialties that showcase the country's culinary heritage and traditions.
What are the ingredients in chicken marsala?
The ingredients commonly used in Chicken Marsala include:
- Chicken breasts or cutlets: Boneless and skinless chicken breasts or thinly sliced chicken cutlets are typically used in the dish.
- All-purpose flour is often used to coat the chicken before cooking, providing a golden crust and helping to thicken the sauce.
- Marsala wine, a fortified wine from Sicily, is the key ingredient that gives the dish its distinct flavor. It is available in both sweet and dry varieties.
- Mushrooms, such as cremini, button, or porcini, are commonly used in Chicken Marsala. They add a savory and earthy element to the dish.
- Chicken broth or stock is often added to the sauce to enhance the flavor and provide a base for the Marsala wine.
- Butter is used to sauté the chicken and mushrooms, and it also contributes richness and flavor to the sauce.
- Garlic and shallots: Some variations of Chicken Marsala include minced garlic and shallots to add depth and aromatic notes to the dish.
- Seasonings: Salt, black pepper, and optionally, dried herbs like thyme or parsley, may be used to season the chicken and sauce.
- Olive oil is typically used for sautéing the chicken and mushrooms.
Chicken Marsala Recipe
- 4 chicken breasts boneless
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups mushrooms
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup Marsala wine
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 sprigs fresh flat-leafed parsley
- Flatten the chicken breasts between two pieces of waxed paper with a meat pounder until thin. If you're not a gadget person like myself and don't own every kitchen utensil available, including a meat pounder, try using the edge of a can of soup or a small sauté pan.You must pound the breasts to an equal thickness. This is, so they cook evenly, and one breast doesn't cook faster than another.
- Slice the mushrooms into thin slices and finely chop the parsley.
- Add the butter to a fry pan/skillet, melt over medium heat, add the mushrooms and cook until lightly browned. It's hard to tell you exactly how long this will take since all stove tops are different.Depending on whether you are using a gas or electric will make a difference. On my household gas stove, it takes 8 - 12 minutes, but on my mom's electric stove, it takes longer.
- Remove the mushrooms and reserve.
- Add the oil to the pan and up the heat a little. I don't advise cooking at high until you get comfortable cooking at high heat. It means working a little faster and watching a little closer, but you want the pan to be hot to pan fry the breasts properly.
- While the oil is heating up, dredge each chicken breast in flour. I like to put the flour in a shallow soup bowl or on a plate and dip each breast into the flour and add to the pan using one hand.
- Sauté the breasts for approximately 1-2 minute each side.
- Remember, chicken breasts will cook faster because they are thinner. If you are preparing more than four breasts, it's important not to crowd the pan, so they fry and do not steam.
- Better to cook in batches than trying to cook them all at once.
- Remove the breasts from the pan, reserve on a platter, and cover with tin foil to keep warm.
- Add the Marsala wine to the pan to deglaze, scraping the small bits of chicken stuck to the pan.
- (Remember, Marsala is a wine and contains alcohol so be careful when adding it to a hot pan. Better to remove the pan from the heat when deglazing any pan with wine.)
- Simmer until slightly reduced, approximately 2 minutes, again depending on your stove top.
- Add the reserved mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and parsley.
- Plate the chicken breasts along with your sides and top with sauce.
Do they ever make it with demi-glace?
While it is not traditional to make Chicken Marsala with demi-glace, a rich and concentrated sauce made from reduced stock, some chefs and variations of the recipe may incorporate it for added depth and flavor.
Demi-glace is a sauce base commonly used in French cuisine, made by reducing and combining brown stock and Espagnole sauce. It is known for its intense flavor and velvety texture. In the context of Chicken Marsala, incorporating demi-glace could provide a richer and more complex sauce.
Using demi-glace in Chicken Marsala would involve adding it to the Marsala wine, mushrooms, and other ingredients during the sauce-making process. This addition can deepen the flavor profile and give the dish a luxurious touch. However, it is important to note that this variation is not part of the traditional Italian preparation of Chicken Marsala.
Chefs often experiment with recipes and adapt them to suit their personal tastes or creative preferences. Incorporating demi-glace into Chicken Marsala is one such example of variation. It can elevate the richness and complexity of the sauce, creating a unique twist on the classic dish.
My Top Choices for Demi Glace