31 January 2008

Chicken Marsala (with and without mushrooms)

Chicken Marsala is one of my favorite things to order in Italian restaurants. I had never tried to cook it until I saw a recipe in Cooks Illustrated with an article called "Chicken Marsala Perfected." I cooked it for myself when Tom was out of town because he has a strong aversion to mushrooms.

However, I ordered it at a restaurant a few weeks ago and Tom had a bite, without the mushrooms, and he loved it. When I was going through some old recipes today, it came up and I decided to try it again.

Since we had pasta last night, I made Garlic Smashed Potatoes, and my Garlic Pepper Green Beans.

Here is the recipe (with my tweaks)-- the link is available to members only (you're welcome).

Chicken Marsala

Serves 4
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 5 ounces each)
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

coarse salt

freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 1/2 ounces pancetta (about 3 slices), cut into pieces 1 inch long and 1/8 inch wide

8 ounces white mushrooms , sliced (about 2 cups)

1 medium clove garlic , minced (about 1 teaspoon)

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1 1/2 cups marsala wine (sweet) (or in pinch, marsala cooking wine)

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice from 1 small lemon

4 tablespoons light butter cut into 4 pieces, softened

2 tablespoons 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. Heat 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.

Pat chicken breasts dry. Meanwhile, 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 with flour. Lift breast from tapered end and shake to remove excess flour; set aside. Add oil to hot skillet and heat until shimmering. Place floured cutlets in single layer in skillet and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes.
Using tongs, flip cutlets and cook on second side until golden brown and meat feels firm when pressed with finger, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to heated plate and return plate to oven.

Return skillet to low heat and add pancetta; sauté, stirring occasionally and scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits until pancetta is brown and crisp, about 4 minutes.
**Cook's note: I LOVE this Amoré Tomato Paste in a tube. You only use as much as you want, and it keeps forever in the fridge! I can't live without my iron skillet (given to me by Chef Love). I also love my silicone pinch bowl that I keep my coarse salt in as I cook. And--of course, a Guinness.**

With slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towel-lined plate. Add mushrooms and increase heat to medium-high; sauté, stirring occasionally and scraping pan bottom, until liquid released by mushrooms evaporates and mushrooms begin to brown, about 8 minutes.
Add garlic, tomato paste, and cooked pancetta; sauté while stirring until tomato paste begins to brown, about 1 minute. Off heat, add Marsala; return pan to high heat and simmer vigorously, scraping browned bits from pan bottom, 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; whisk in butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir in parsley. Pour sauce over chicken and serve immediately.
Garlic Smashed Potatoes
Peel an inch strip around 8 small, red potatoes. Place in a medium saucepan with 2 medium, peeled cloves of garlic, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook until potatoes are just tender.

Drain, and place potatoes and garlic in a large bowl. Mash with a potato masher or large fork. Add 1 tablespoon light butter, 1/3 cup milk, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well, and garnish with 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley.

Here are the potatoes with the green beans:
And here is the final plate modeled by Tom, as he likes it--without mushrooms.
Tonight we watched, believe it or not, Flash Gordon. Or as Queen says: "Flash! Ahh--ahh!"

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