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Chicken goes Italian, with Marsala wine

Posted: October 15, 2013 - 12:57pm  |  Updated: October 16, 2013 - 8:29am

Of the many ways to enjoy chicken, Chicken Marsala is among the tastiest dishes there is. The wine in the dish imparts an earthy, deep flavor, as does the addition of fresh mushrooms and prosciutto, the Italian word for “ham.” Chicken Marsala is a popular entrée in Italian restaurants and relatively easy to duplicate at home. It is also a satisfying and filling meal, especially when accompanied with fettuccine pasta or, if you prefer, rice or some small red potatoes seasoned with garlic and rosemary. When making Chicken Marsala with boneless chicken breasts, it is important to pound them thin with a mallet, making them a good substitute for costlier veal cutlets, which is classically used to make the dish. Chicken Marsala can be put together quickly, making it ideal for a mid-week meal, but it is also elegant enough for serving to weekend guests. A mixed green salad dressed with simple vinaigrette is nice with Chicken Marsala, as well. Marsala wine should be a staple in the pantry, along with other fortified wines such as sherry, port and Madeira, as they can be used in a number of recipes, including desserts, such as trifle, Sabayon, zabaglione, tiramisu and more.

 

Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at kitchenade@yahoo.com.

Chicken Marsala

1½- to 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Flour for dredging flour
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more as needed
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
1 large shallot, finely chopped
4 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced into strips
½ pound mushrooms, thickly sliced
½ cup Marsala wine
¾ cup low-salt chicken broth
Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish
Italian flat leaf parsley, minced, for garnish
1 pound cooked fettuccine pasta, cooked al dente, for serving
 
Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour, shaking off excess. Melt butter and oil in a large, heavy skillet or pan over medium-high heat. When the butter begins to foam, lower heat to medium, adding half the chicken to the pan and cooking until golden brown, about 1½ minutes per side; transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Add the shallot and prosciutto to the pan and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds, being careful not to let the shallot burn or prosciutto dry out. Add the mushrooms to the pan and sauté until tender and the juices evaporate, about 5 minutes. (If needed, add more butter or oil to the pan.) Season with a bit of salt to taste. Add the Marsala, cooking down for a few minutes until the alcohol evaporates and the liquid is reduced by about a third. Add the broth and simmer for a few minutes to reduce the sauce a bit more. Lower heat to medium and return the chicken to the pan along with any juices that remain on the holding plate.
Cook until chicken is heated through, turning chicken to coat, about 1 minute. Adjust seasonings and sprinkle with parmesan cheese shavings, garnishing with minced fresh parsley. Serve with fettuccine pasta. Makes 4 servings.

Oven-Baked Chicken Marsala
 
Use a whole cut-up chicken and an ovenproof skillet  or pan to make Oven-Baked Chicken Marsala.

1 (3- to 4 pound) whole chicken, cut up
1 cup flour to coat chicken
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ stick butter, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for frying chicken
1 pound mushrooms, sliced thick
2 shallots, minced
4 ounces prosciutto, chopped
½ cup Marsala wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 teaspoons cornstarch
¼ cup heavy cream
Italian flat leaf parsley, minced, for garnish
Rice or Small Red Potatoes with Garlic and Rosemary (recipe follows), for serving
 
In a shallow dish, combine flour with salt and pepper; set aside. Wash chicken pieces in cool water and drain, but don’t allow the chicken to dry or the flour won’t stick to the chicken. Coat chicken with flour, shaking off excess. Pour oil into a large ovenproof skillet or pan to a depth of ¾-inch. Heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees when placed in the oil. Fry chicken, skin side down, until skin side is golden brown, then turn, and brown the other side. Remove chicken from pan and drain. When cool enough to handle, remove oil from pan and wipe clean with a paper towel. In the same pan used to cook chicken, heat butter with 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until butter begins to foam. Add mushrooms, shallots and prosciutto to the pan and sauté until mushrooms are lightly browned and have just begun to release their juices, about 8 to 10 minutes. (If needed, add more butter to the pan.) Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return the chicken to the pan, then pour wine over all and cook for 1 minute. Dissolve cornstarch in the chicken stock and add to pan, cooking until thickened. Stir in cream, but do not allow cream to boil. Cover pan with pan cover or aluminum foil and bake in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 40 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear. Garnish with parsley. Serve with rice, or potatoes, for serving. Makes 4 servings.  

Small Red Potatoes with Garlic and Rosemary

3 pounds small red potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
Salt and fresh ground pepper
 
Scrub potatoes, paring a narrow strip of skin from around the center of each potato. Cook the potatoes in a large pot of salted boiling water until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain well. In the same pot used to cook the potatoes, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add garlic and rosemary and cook until garlic softens. Add potatoes, stirring gently to coat potatoes with oil/butter, rosemary and garlic mixture. Watch closely; do not let garlic burn. Remove potatoes from pot and season with salt and pepper to taste. 

What is prosciutto?
(pronounced “pro-shoo-toh”)

Proscuitto is an Italian word for salt-cured, air-dried ham from the rear leg or thigh of a pig. There are two kinds of prosciutto – “crudo,” which is cured and aged, and “cotto,” which is pre-cooked. After prosciutto is cured, it can be lightly cooked as a flavor enhancer for sauces for pasta and other dishes, or eaten as is, served in thin slices, at room temperature, with fruits such as melon, figs or dates. Quality prosciutto is fragrant, soft and rosy pink. Parma Ham, from Parma, Italy is known as the “true” prosciutto. By law, and as overseen by the Parma Ham Consortium, only hams produced and cured in the region around Parma may become Parma Hams, which is an “all-natural product made with only pork, salt, air and time.”

Why I like Italian flat leaf parsley and how to store it
 
Flat leaf parsley has more flavor than curly parsley and its leaves are not as “rough” as curly parsley, therefore giving it a softer mouth-feel. To store fresh parsley, rinse the bunch in water, shaking off excess; blot well with a paper towel. Using a clean paper towel, wrap parsley in the towel, then seal the towel in a plastic bag. Place bag in the refrigerator. Your parsley should keep for a week or more when stored in this manner.  

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