I may have been one of the pickiest eaters on this earth as a child. No, I’m not talking about a dislike for vegetables or distaste for sauce on my pasta. It was much worse.
Let’s just say that my diet was chicken, chicken and chicken: chicken and broccoli, chicken and mashed potatoes, plain chicken sandwich, no bun, no sauce. I was really boring.
And then I turned 15 and found myself at my local Olive Garden, ready as ever to order my usual chicken parm, until somehow I was talked into ordering chicken marsala by one of my family members. I was so nervous—there is nothing worse than being irrationally hungry and ordering the wrong thing. Then what?
It came to my table, and I realized it had mushrooms. Oh no…. I hated mushrooms. It’s over. It’s over.
And then I had a bite, and suddenly it wasn’t over. It was perfect.
The chicken was pounded thin, lightly breaded and crisped slightly on its edges, drenched in a sweet, no savory, no sweet…what is that sauce? Marsala. Accompanying herbed potatoes and peppers soaked up the sauce just the same, and I think I may have eaten the entire thing. Suddenly my life was all about marsala.
It hadn’t occurred to me until I was in college that I could attempt to copy some of these fantastic recipes, so as early as a few summers ago, I took a shot at chicken marsala. Was it perfect the first time? No. The chicken wasn’t pounded thin enough. I used too much marsala wine.
But the second time was (dare I say it) better than what I fell in love with originally. I mastered chicken marsala at 19, and really, it’s because the recipe is stupidly easy. Perhaps my taste buds were tricked by the simplicity of it—and I’ve never been more thankful for that day. That was the day that opened me up.
People—if you like chicken as much as I do, and you have a thing for mushrooms and a killer sauce, you have to try this recipe. Maybe it’ll take you back to your first time trying something and realizing that at least a decade stood between you and the magic of that dish.
Yield: 4 servings
Active time: 45 min
1 cup chicken broth
5 Tbsp. butter
12 oz. mushrooms of your choice, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts (around 2 lb.), pounded thin
3/4 cup dry Marsala wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
In a large bowl, mix flour, salt and pepper. Dredge pounded chicken breasts through the flour mixture until evenly, lightly coated. Shake to remove excess flour.
Heat skillet to medium temperature (medium-high if your stove doesn’t warm up immediately) and cook chicken breasts in 1 Tbsp. butter, until golden brown (about 3 minutes). Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Add remaining butter to the skillet and add mushrooms, cooking until mushrooms are golden brown. Add Marsala wine and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. When the liquid has been reduced by half, add chicken stock and heavy cream. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Lower heat to medium and transfer chicken breasts back to the skillet. Cover skillet and let cook for 5-6 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and sauce has chickened. Serve immediately.
Side note: Roasted fingerling potatoes or a bed of fettuccine accompany this dish fabulously.