You know those chef competitions that are so popular right now (Top Chef, Master Chef, etc)? At some point or another, they are usually asked to prepare their signature dish. Id’ have to say that chicken marsala would be mine. It’s one of the first recipes that I’d ever tackled back in my newlywed days, it was even the first post I made here on the blog. This was the also the first recipe I’d ever tried from Cook’s Illustrated, which quickly became my go-to recipe source. So many good things I associate with this recipe!
Which is why I figured I’d take a new shot for you guys when I made this last week. I’ve probably made this dinner 100 times, and it still never ceases to “wow” us. It’s perfect for company too – impressive, but much of the prep work can be done beforehand, which is great for dinner parties. When browsing through the ingredients list, the sweet Marsala might throw you a bit. Who wants a sweet wine in their savory sauce, right? But trust me, the sweetness is balanced out with plenty of fresh lemon juice. I’ve tried it with dry Marsala as well, but it’s just not as flavorful – sweet definitely wins out. If you can’t find sweet Marsala, use dry but omit most of the lemon juice. Paired with a pile of fettuccine and a nice green salad, this is truly a perfect meal!
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 slices of bacon, chopped
2 cups white or cremini mushrooms
2 large garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tbsp.)
1 tbsp. minced shallot
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup Marsala wine (sweet)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 lemon, juiced
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley leaves
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, place large heatproof dinner plate on oven rack, and heat oven to 200 degrees. Meanwhile, pound the chicken breasts to a 1/2 inch thickness in between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Pat chicken breasts dry. Place flour in shallow baking dish or pie plate. Season both sides of chicken cutlets with salt and pepper. Working one piece at a time, coat both sides of chicken breasts with flour. Shake to remove excess flour, and set aside.
Heat oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until very hot (you can hold your hand 2 inches above pan surface for 3 to 4 seconds), about 3 minutes. Place floured cutlets in single layer in skillet and cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Using tongs, flip cutlets and cook on second side until golden brown and meat feels firm when pressed with finger, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to heated plate and return plate to oven to keep warm.
Return skillet to low heat and add bacon; saute, stirring occasionally and scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits until bacon is brown and crisp, about 4 minutes. With slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel–lined plate.
Add mushrooms and increase heat to medium-high; saute, stirring occasionally and scraping pan bottom, until liquid released by mushrooms evaporates and mushrooms begin to brown, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and shallot and saute for 1 minute. Add tomato paste, and cook until paste begins to brown, about 1 minute.
Add Marsala and chicken stock, and increase heat to high. Scrape browned bits from pan bottom, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until sauce is slightly syrupy and reduced to about 1 1/4 cups, about 5 minutes.
Off heat, add lemon juice and any accumulated juices from chicken in the oven; whisk in butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir in parsley. Return chicken breasts to pan and simmer in sauce for a few minutes before serving.
Source: adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, May 2000