Chicken often falls low on the meat totem pole, not always getting the attention it deserves. Its versatility can be mistaken for boringness, but at its best it can be an elegant main course, whether fried, roasted or sauteed.
Chicken Marsala is the embodiment of elegant simplicity, perfect for a quick weeknight dinner or a festive supper party. Braised in a Marsala sauce and mushrooms, a plain chicken breast is transformed into a moist centerpiece with a delicious sauce that begs to be mopped with a crust of bread.
A cautionary tale: I had intended to serve the chicken with simply sauteed broccoli and a lemon risotto to add some acidity to the dish. I made the tactical error of using brown rice instead of white rice for the risotto, a mistake I do not encourage you to make. Since brown rice takes much longer to cook, what should be a 45-minute process took closer to 2 hours, and even then the rice lacked the creaminess that risotto demands. With the right rice this would be a killer dish. The lesson learned: sometimes it’s okay to sacrifice health for deliciousness.
Adapted from Gourmet and Nigella Bites
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, halved and butterflied
11/2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
3/4 pounds mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry Marsala wine
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
All-purpose flour for dusting
- Wash the chicken and pat dry. Season the breasts with salt and pepper and lightly coat with flour. In a large skillet, heat oil over high heat until hot and brown the chicken on both sides. Transfer with tongs to a large place.
- Discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet and saute the onions and mushrooms, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are lightly brown and the liquid from the mushrooms simmers off. Add the Marsala and stir until almost evaporated. Add the brought and simmer until liquid is reduced by half. Bring to low heat and stir in the butter and salt and pepper to taste, stirring until butter is just incorporated.
- Add the chicken with any juices that have accumulated on the plate and simmer, turning chicken once, until warmed through, about 1 minute. Serve with lemon risotto (recipe follows) and sauteed broccoli.
For Lemon Risotto
1 cup rice, preferably Arborio
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
1 egg yolk
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for garnish
4 tablespoons heavy cream
- Heat the butter, oil and onion in a large saucepan and cook until the onions are softened. Add the rice and stir to coat with oil and butter. Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in another saucepan and keep simmering.
- Add the stock to the rice one ladleful at a time, continuing to add stock and stir until stock is absorbed and the rice is al dente.
- Mix the lemon zest into the risotto, and in a small bowl beat the egg yolk, lemon juice, Parmesan, cream and pepper.
- When the risotto is ready, remove it from the heat and stir in the egg/lemon mixture, the remaining butter and salt to taste. Serve with more Parmesan if desired.
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Photos: Emma Haberman
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