Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Recipe: Mushroom-less Chicken Marsala

I had set out chicken to thaw in the fridge the night before last and had been eyeing the head of broccoli nestled in the veggie drawer—I was going to make something for dinner last night, I just didn't have a plan. Realizing I wouldn't be home from work until 6:00pm, I needed something quick, so it wasn't the best night to be experimenting with a new recipe. I asked my mother about maybe just having her make either her much-loved Chicken Kiev or her Mushroom-less Chicken Marsala, but she's been feeling a bit under the weather, so we picked the latter of the two dishes (because it's easier and faster) and came to a compromise: she would do as much prep. work as she felt she was able to do, and I would swoop in and take over after getting home from work. She managed to trim and flatten the chicken breasts, but the rest was up to me.

Now, this dish is one of my mom's classic dinner dishes—she's been making it for as long as I can remember and I was terrified of messing it up, because her version is just so good. Aside from letting the sauce reduce a bit too much and overloading a bit on the parsley (her recipe had the measurement for fresh parsley, while I was using dry parsley, and you need far less dry than you need fresh), the meal turned out well and I'm happy to share this variation on Chicken Marsala with you.

Serves: 4
Prep. time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking time: 10-15 minutes
Difficulty: Easy


  • 2 large chicken breasts (boneless, skinless), flattened to about approx. 1/4-to-1/2 inch thickness (pound them out between two pieces of plastic wrap using a meat mallet)
  • 1 large egg, whisked together with 1-2 tbsp. water
  • 1/2-to-1 cup panko coating/bread crumbs (use more, as needed)
  • 1 head broccoli, trimmed and cut into florets
  • Approx. 6-8 oz. egg noodles (we usually use large noodles)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Butter and olive oil

For the sauce
  • 4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) salted butter
  • 4 tsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup Marsala wine (we use cooking wine, but the real stuff has better flavor)
  • 4 tsp. dry parsley (or 1/4 cup fresh)
  • 1 tsp. chicken granules or bouillon (you just add it directly to the sauce—no water needed)
  • (Salt and) pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 225*F. Spread the panko out on a plate or piece of wax paper and season lightly with salt and pepper. Dip each piece of chicken in the egg-and-water mixture (it's best if this is in a shallow bowl), thoroughly coating each piece, then dip each piece into the panko and coat thoroughly. Heat a little butter and olive oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat, then add the chicken. Cook evenly on both sides, letting each side crisp up and turn lightly golden brown. When they've just about cooked through, remove them from the pan, set them in an oven-safe dish and put them in the oven to keep warm. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, then add your noodles and cook according to package instructions (about 7 minutes). After 4 minutes have passed cooking the noodles, add the broccoli to the pot with the noodles and cook until done (this will cook the broccoli gently, but don't add the broccoli too early, or it will get mushy). While the noodles and broccoli are cooking, add the butter for the sauce to the pan used to cook the chicken and heat over medium heat. Once it's melted, add the flour and whisk it in to blend it into the butter. Add the garlic, cook for about a minute, then add the water, Marsala wine, parsley (if using fresh, add it at the end—fresh herbs lose their flavor quickly when cooked), chicken granules/bouillon, and pepper (and salt, if needed) and stir or whisk to blend. Continue to stir and increase the heat until the sauce starts to boil and thicken (about 1 minute), then reduce the heat to low. When the noodles and broccoli are done, drain them and return them to the pot (add a little butter if desired to prevent the noodles from sticking). Pour the sauce into a gravy boat. Serve the chicken alongside the broccoli and noodle mixture and top with sauce.

This is the Chicken Marsala I grew up with—flavorful, simple, and mushroom-less. My mother has never liked mushrooms and, until recently, I didn't either, so it took me a long time to realize that my mother's recipe was a bit different than the usual. Despite it's differences, it's absolutely delicious. Marsala wine adds sweetness to the sauce, while the butter and chicken granules add saltiness. Garlic and parsley add a little pop of flavor, while the flour helps to thicken the sauce. We used to use regular bread crumbs on the chicken, but the panko just crisps up so much nicer and makes the chicken lighter. Tender egg noodles make a nice change from pasta and broccoli adds freshness to the dish. It's a twist on a classic, and it's absolutely delicious. 

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