Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Overcoming a fear of poultry: Chicken marsala with mushrooms


You probably won't believe this, but Maggie and i don't typically compare notes on what we plan to cook until well after the fact, which is why it's tremendously amusing to me when we find ourselves riffing on similar themes (fig week being a perfect example). This week, it seems, we're all about sage. Admittedly, I'm pretty frequently all about sage. It's a star player in my pumpkin risotto, and for some reason always reminds me of home. It also figures pretty prominently on my take on Chicken Marsala; as Maggie pointed out in her pumpkin orzo post, sage is kind of bitter, which makes it an excellent foil for the sweetness of the fortified wine.

This is a recipe I've been kicking around for a while without actually getting the hang of it; mainly because I have spent most of my adult life harboring a fear of cooking poultry (dude, salmonella!) which has resulted in a long and varied history of dry and flavorless chicken dishes. This one was no exception--until now.

I'm not entirely sure what happened; probably something to do with my decision to make it more of a stew than it typically is, as well as the replacement of the boneless, skinless breasts of previous attempts with rich and savory chicken thighs. The decision to cook it all slow and low (a lesson my adventures with pulled pork clearly taught me well) may have helped, too. I won't point to any one factor, but I will say this: whatever it was, it worked, and I found myself with the luscious marsala I'd been chasing all these years.

I think that next time, I might take it a little further and make it into a casserole--a nice, herby biscuit top might be a nice juxtaposition--or perhaps an actual chicken pie, with a nice buttery crust (of course, I have to figure out how to make THAT, too, but what's life without a challenge?)

(and suggestions welcome, of course)


Chicken marsala, fear-of-poultry style

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
8 oz shiitake mushrooms (stemmed and sliced)
8 oz baby bella mushrooms (stemmed and sliced)
1 medium-sized onion (halved and sliced)
1 c marsala wine (Note: use real, unsalted marsala. An acceptable cooking vintage is about $5, and vastly superior to the stuff you can get in the grocery store)
1 c chicken broth
2-3 tsp fresh sage, minced
1 tbsp butter (optional)
salt and pepper
  1. In a deep skillet, heat up some olive oil and saute the chicken very briefly--just enough to color the outside completely. 2 minutes, tops. Remove from the skillet and set it aside.
  2. Heat up more oil! Reduce heat to medium and sauted the onions until they're translucent.
  3. Add the mushrooms, and continue to saute until they become soft and juicy.
  4. Add the marsala, stirring occasionally until it starts to simmer.
  5. add the chicken broth; again, wait for it to start simmering.
  6. Add the sage, simmer for another minute or two
  7. Add the chicken, reduce the heat to low and then cover, cooking until the chicken is cooked through and delicious--somewhere between 10 and 18 minutes, depending on the size of your pot.
  8. (This part is optional): If you're feeling really enterprising, when everything is cooked, remove it from the pot using a slotted spoon, and make a great sauce by whisking a little flour and butter into the juices that remain. Mix it back in or just pour it over. Or, serve it on its own as something to sop up with a nice piece of bread.
I served this with yesterday's beet salad and a nice whole wheat bread, but i think it would be equally nice with a green salad or some roasted brussels sprouts.

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Chocolate Shavings said...

That picture is gorgeous - and your chicken looks creamy and delicious!

aleta meadowlark said...

Oh, I LOVE marsala! I'll have to try this!

EB of SpiceDish said...

That would make a kickin' pie! You could make the crust pretty easy by just using puff pastry. Mmm.

We Are Never Full said...

what a beautiful blog! thanks for the comment on ours. i'll be back here for sure. this marsala looks thick and divine!!

Lo said...

I've just got to confess, I love your blog! And this marsala looks grande!

The Food Librarian said...

Oh my goodness! This looks so yummy. What a fun blog! I'll be back to view your great meals!

Anonymous said...

I just made this for my boyfriend (I'm a vegetarian). He says the optional last step of thickening the broth should be considered a necessary one, as he found it much tastier that way. I think it would also probably go well over egg noodles as kind of a stroganoff bastardization. I'll probably post about it in the next couple of days, I've done a lot of cooking lately!
Love the blog, look forward to lots more great posts!

alexandra's kitchen said...

I love chicken marsala. it looks as though this meal was a success! and your fear of poultry is totally warranted. so much of the chicken in this country is salmonella-infected.yuk! thankfully, there are places to find good chicken. This is making me so hungry!

Anonymous said...

Here is how mine turned out. Thanks for the inspiration!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comment! Here is that squash recipe - it needs some work but has potential.