Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chicken Marsala with Oven Roasted Thyme Potatoes

I absolutely love Chicken Marsala.  I love it in restaurants, I love it at home.  I love that there are about a dozen different variations on the recipe.  It's a fantastic example of Italian cooking that wows just about anyone you serve it to.

Normally Chicken Marsala is served over pasta, either angel hair or linguini.  Last time I made it for dinner, I decided to deviate from the "norm" - probably because I was out of pasta. (A Sicilian out of pasta?  Sacrilege!)  Instead, I served it over oven roasted thyme potatoes.

Now, Chicken Marsala seems fancy, but it's shockingly easy to make if you have any familiarity with how to use a skillet.  Plus, it's basically a two-pan dish, as the chicken is cooked in the skillet, and whatever you're serving it over is cooked in it's own pan.

Here's the recipe I use.

Chicken Marsala

  • 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded or cut to 1/4 inch thickness, or use boneless tenders
  • 1/4 butter or olive oil
  • Flour
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup Marsala wine or dry sherry
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram (optional)
  1. Dredge chicken in flour, patting off excess, and salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Melt butter or heat oil in a skillet.  The skillet is hot enough when a flick of cold water from your fingertips "sizzles".
  3. Saute mushrooms until tender and remove from pan.
  4. Brown the chicken on both sides in skillet.
  5. Add garlic, Marsala wine and marjoram, and return mushrooms to pan.
  6. Cover and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked.
  • Using olive oil makes this a more healthy meal than using butter (but butter is oh-so-good, so if you're brave or just don't care about cholesterol, go for the "full test" method).
  • The marjoram is optional - it gives the Chicken Marsala a nice flavoring, sort of like a mild version of oregano.  But if you don't have any on hand, don't rush out to buy it, unless you have seventeen other recipes that call for it.
  • You'll find both dry sherry and Marsala cooking wine in the same aisle as vinegar.  I've made this recipe with both dry sherry and Marsala cooking wine, as well as actual Marsala wine (the kind you can drink).  The cooking wines are a little saltier, so if you use true Marsala wine you will have to adjust your salt content.
Last time I made this, I had a few small cooking onions leftover from when I made bouef bourguignon, so I sauteed those with the mushrooms and chicken.

Now, as I said, normally this is served over linguini or angel hair pasta, but for a twist (or necessity) I made roasted thyme potatoes instead, which were a ridiculously easy side dish that I totally "made up" on the fly.  They take a lot longer to cook than the Chicken Marsala takes, so you'll need to get them started before the chicken.  If they finish cooking before the Chicken Marsala is done you can just cover them with foil (so they don't dry out) and leave in the turned-off oven.

Oven Roasted Thyme Potatoes
  • 4 to 6 good sized red potatoes
  • 1/4 olive oil, plus extra to drizzle if necessary.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Dried Thyme
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees and position rack in the middle of the oven.
  • Wash potatoes well, then slice into 1/8 inch slices, cutting out any eyes.
  • Coat the bottom of a rectangular baking dish with the 1/4 cup of olive oil.
  • Place potato slices in the baking dish in a single layer, turning to coat with olive oil.  Drizzle with olive oil if slices are not well coated.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste, then sprinkle with thyme as desired.
  • Place in oven and roast until potatoes are tender and are easily pierced by a fork about 45 minutes, stirring once midway through cooking to prevent sticking.  You can cover the pan with aluminum foil if the potatoes seem to be browning too quickly, but uncover in the oven for about five minutes before serving.
  • Toss the potatoes in the baking dish before serving.
To serve this delicious Italian meal, place a layer of potatoes on a plate, then top with two pieces of chicken and spoon mushrooms and Marsala sauce over the whole thing as desired.  Fresh crusty Italian or French bread is a great accompaniment.


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