Sunday, October 18, 2009

Chicken Marsala

Chicken Marsala is a classic Italian dish that, in its traditional form, consists of chicken breast cutlets, mushrooms and Marsala wine. Of course, my philosophy is, as always, you can make any dish your own by adding extra ingredients that you like to eat (as long as the ingredients do not clash with one another) but keeping the basic form of the dish intact. For instance, in my chicken marsala dish, I like to add asparagus spears and garnish with finely chopped scallions instead of parsley. The main ingredient, the Marsala wine originates from the Sicilan city of Marsala. It is a fortified wine similar to Port and is traditionally served as an aperitif. Now it is used more as a cooking wine.

Here are the ingredients that you'll need to make this version of chicken marsala:

Chicken breast (or dark meat if you prefer)
Mushroom (crimini, shiitake) cut into slices
Marsala wine
Chicken stock
Flour (seasoned with salt and pepper)
Asparagus (cut into an inch in length)
Spaghetti
Onions or shallots (chopped small)
Dried herbs (thyme/oregano)
Scallions

To prepare the chicken meat, I prefer to slice it into thin cutlets. You can also choose to pound the meat with a tenderizer but be careful cause over-beating the meat will turn it into mush. Season the chicken meat with salt and pepper. Heat up a pan while you coat the chicken cutlets with the seasoned flour. The flour provides a nice coating for the meat and also prevents it from sticking to the pan. If you slice the chicken thin enough, the cutlets will cook in no time, before the outer coating turns too brown or burnt. Remove the cutlets when they are done and move them to a paper towel-lined plate to drain the excess oil.


At this point, do not wash the pan yet. You'll need it to make the sauce. First, drain away the excess oil and melt 2 TBS of butter and start sweating the onions. Add the mushrooms and cook out the liquid. Deglaze the pan with the Marsala wine, chicken stock, add the herbs and let it reduce to an almost syrupy consistency. Taste and season the sauce with salt and pepper. For the asparagus, cut off the bottom ends (about 2 inches) and discard. Cut the remaining asparagus into one-inch sticks and saute with salt and pepper until they are slightly soft. As for the pasta, cook the spaghetti until al dente and add some melted butter so that the pasta doesn't stick together.

Now you are ready to serve. Plate the pasta first, arrange the chicken cutlets around the plate, sprinkle the asparagus spears around the plate and finally, spoon the sauce over the everything and garnish with the scallions.

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