Monday, March 3, 2008

alex’s chicken and mushroom marsala

alex's chicken marsala

We’ve discussed this before, but I really hate cooking anything twice. I know what an awful shame this is–falling upon gasp-worthy, decadent and even flawless recipes, broadcasting their merits across the Web, then filing them away only to never speak of them again–but I am going to have to insist that you do not judge me for this; after all, what would thesmittenkitchen be without my impatience for the next new thing?

Nevertheless, there are certain recipes that Alex, less appalled with the concept of having to eat anything twice in two whole years, frequently and politely requests that I make again. And what do I do? Do I tie on my apron, pour him a drink and say “of course, honey! Anything for you, baby! You’re the love of my life, baby!”? No, I suggest that he make it himself.

white buttons

So, without further ado, this the dish that will hereto-forth be known as Alex’s Chicken Marsala, and this is what you need to know about it: It is all about the mushrooms. The buttery, marsala-ed mushrooms are mind-bogglingly delicious. You won’t believe the flavor they can extract from so few ingredients, and in such a reasonable amount of time.

This is as good time as any for me to sing the praises of the humble white button mushroom, which get upstaged a lot these days by fancier heirloom and wild varieties. And although I have room in my funky (er, funghi?) heart for each and all types, I maintain that you can extract every bit of complex flavor from a white button mushroom as you can from a crimini or shiitake–it is all about know how to cook them, and this, my friends, is an excellent place to start. Or have someone start for you while you sit on the sofa, drink your wine and play Scrabulous. Same difference, right?

Chicken and Mushroom Marsala
Adapted barely from Gourmet, June 1995

Serves 6

3 whole boneless chicken breasts with skin (about 2 1/2 pounds), halved (see Note)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, halved and sliced thin
3/4 pound mushrooms, sliced thin, any variety you like
1/2 cup dry Marsala
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves (optional, for garnish)

Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. In a large heavy skillet heat oil and 1 1/2 tablespoons butter over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown chicken in 2 batches, transferring with tongs to a large plate as browned.

Discard all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet and sauté onion and mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated. Add Marsala and cook mixture, stirring, until Marsala is almost evaporated. Add broth and chicken with any juices that have accumulated on plate and simmer, turning chicken once, until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken with tongs to a platter.

Simmer mushroom sauce until liquid is reduced to about 1/2 cup. Remove skillet from heat and stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter and salt and pepper to taste, stirring until butter is just incorporated. Spoon mushroom sauce around chicken and sprinkle with parsley.

New note, 11/21/13: Tonight, I made this with boneless, skinless chicken thighs and it was fantastic — and quick, with refreshingly few ingredients. This takes well under an hour to cook, and deserves to be placed back in the weeknight rotation.


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