Chicken Marsala

My younger brother Jason attended Le Cordon Bleu culinary arts school in Atlanta.  He’s currently chefing it up in Manhattan as the sous chef for a large conference center that serves 1500+ people per day.  He has the pleasure of meeting with the clients and presenting them sample menu items to choose from, then ordering and directing a staff to make it happen in large and delicious style.  I have really enjoyed watching him learn and develop as a chef.  To me, there’s no one that has more talent for bringing magic to a plate than him.  When he comes to visit, I just go ahead and bring out the elastic waste clothing items.  Much goodness is always had.

The French are known for their rich, flavorful sauces.  The french influence of Jason’s schooling has definitely led to his love of an amazing sauce.  And the occasional faaaabulous argyle vintage sweater.

That is one thing I can say for this dish – the sauce is to die for.  The secret is in the marsala wine and pancetta.  Nice grocery stores will have this in their deli and you can just get one 1/2 inch slice for this recipe.

And as if the delicious mushroom wine sauce wasn’t enough, there’s also crispy, pan-fried chicken to boot.  It’s a happy union, I tell ya’.

I’ve already lamented about my new-found love for Cook’s Illustrated.  This is another one of their masterpieces.

Chicken Marsala (from Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook)

Printable recipe

– INGREDIENTS –

  • 4 (6-8oz) chicken breasts, boneless skinless, tenderloins removed and trimmed
  • 1 cup flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 oz pancetta, cut into pieces 1 inch long and 1/8 inch wide
  • 8 oz white mushrooms, trimmed and sliced thin
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teas tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups sweet Marsala wine
  • 4 1/2 teas lemon juice
  • 4 tbs unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces and chilled
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh parsley

– PREPARATION –

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Halve chicken horizontally, then cover chicken halves with plastic wrap and pound to an even 1/4 inch thickness with meat pounder. Place flour in a shallow dish or pie plate.

2. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Working with 1 cutlet at a time, dredge in four mixture, shaking off excess, and transfer to large plate.

3. Heat 2 tbs oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Place 4 cutlets in skillet and cook until golden brown on first side, about 3 minutes. Flip cutlets, reduce heat to medium, and cook until no longer pink and lightly browned on second side, about 2 minutes longer; transfer to large oven safe plate. Wipe out skillet. Repeat with remaining 2 tbs oil and remaining cutlets. Tent loosely with aluminum foil and transfer to oven to keep warm while making sauce.

4. Cook pancetta in now-empty skillet over low heat, stirring occasionally and scraping up any browned bits, until crisp, about 5 minutes. remove pancetta with slotted spoon and transfer to paper towel lined plate. Add mushrooms to skillet, increase heat to medium-high and cook stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in garlic and tomato paste, and crisp pancetta and cook until tomato paste begins to brown, about 1 minute. Off heat stir in Marsala, scraping any browned bits. Return to high heat, bring to a vigorous simmer, and cook stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened and measures 1 1/4 cups, about 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in lemon juice and any accumulated chicken juices. Whisk in butter, 1 piece at a time. Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over chicken and serve immediately.

Make it a meal with:
Sauteed fresh green beans
steamed rice

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