Chicken Marsala Recipe
Classic Italian comfort food for celebrating a friend’s birthday
After moving from California to North Carolina a few years ago, a charming widow in our neighborhood befriended my wife and I. She’s been most helpful with providing insights for the way things are done in the South – being a Californian for most of my life, moving to a Southern state was definitely a jolt. So, for her birthday we invited her over and re-create her restaurant favorite, Chicken Marsala.
However, there was a challenge. I didn’t have a ‘go-to’ recipe for Chicken Marsala. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t recall even making it before. Fortunately, I had two weeks to test, refine and re-test this classic for my friend’s birthday. The following Chicken Marsala recipe is my final refinement.
A Tyler Florence-Inspired Chicken Marsala
Interestingly, Tyler Florence has two slightly different versions of the Chicken Marsala recipe published on the web. Although my recipe was inspired by this Tyler Florence Chicken Marsala recipe, I found it had many short-comings. There are several modifications I made that ended up in my following recipe.
A Change of Marsala
Tyler’s recipe uses sweet Marsala. Really?? Yes, sweet; really. The sweet Marsala makes the dish way too sweet, candy-like. So, my recipe is with a Dry Marsala. Also, I opted for a little more expensive wine, Colombo Marsala. There are cheaper Marsalas, for as little as $5, but I felt if I spent a little more ($12 instead of $5) it would add another layer of luxury to the dish.
With Tyler’s Chicken Marsala trial-run I tasted only a mere hint of Marsala. When it’s called ‘Chicken Marsala’ after all, you’d think the wine would shine through on the initial bite. It didn’t. I upped the amount of wine from 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup, and that did the trick.
Moving the Seasoning Step
The salt and pepper was lost in Tyler’s recipe. Instead of adding these spices to the flour before dredging the chicken (as Tyler’s recipe calls for), I generously salt and peppered each chicken cutlet before dredging. That made a noticeable (and tasty) difference.
Fine-tuning the Sauce
Tyler’s Chicken Marsala sauce seemed a little flat, one-dimensional. To give it more depth I minced and sauteed half of a large shallot with the mushrooms.
Tyler calls for slicing mushrooms in half before sauteing them. I don’t recommend this. Mushroom halves are too large; and their size pulls the focus away from the chicken with each fork stack. Instead, quarter-slice the mushrooms lengthwise.
Pete's Chicken Marsala Recipe
- 2 lg Boneless Chicken Breasts - Butterflied, then cut in half, for 4 cutlets.
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 1/2 Large Shallot, minced
- 8 oz cremini or porcini mushrooms, stemmed and sliced in quarters
- 4-6 pinches flat parsley, freshly chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 oz proscuitto, thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup Dry Marsala wine
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour for dredging
- Butterfly and slice chicken breasts into cutlets. Put the chicken breasts side by side on a cutting board and lay a piece of plastic wrap over them; pound with a flat meat mallet, until they are about 1/4-inch thick. Lightly salt and pepper both sides of each cutlet. Put some flour in a shallow platter.
- Use a portion of the olive oil to lightly cover the bottom of a deep frying pan; then, heat pan at medium-high on stove top.
- When the oil is nice and hot, dredge both sides of the chicken cutlets in the flour, shaking off the excess. Slip the cutlets into the pan and fry for 4-5 minutes on each side until golden, turning once – do this in batches if the pieces don't fit comfortably in the pan. Remove the chicken to a large platter in a single layer to keep warm. NOTE: Continue to maintain a light coat of oil in pan during frying process to prevent food from burning. Adjust pan temperature as necessary to prevent burning.
- Lower the heat to medium and add the prosciutto to the drippings in the pan, saute for 1 minute to render out some of the fat. Now, add the mushrooms and shallot, and saute until they are nicely browned and their moisture has evaporated, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Pour the Marsala in the pan and boil down for a few seconds to cook out the alcohol. Add the chicken stock and simmer for a minute to reduce the sauce slightly. Stir in the butter and return the chicken to the pan; simmer gently for 1 minute to heat the chicken through. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley before serving.
So, What Type of Cuisine is Chicken Marsala?
Is Chicken Marsala truly Italian? Sicilian? Or, is it really French cuisine? You make the call.
The following video presents a great overview on the history of Chicken Marsala.