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Dinner party recipe: chicken Marsala


A dear friend recently celebrated his birthday by hosting a big night out on the town (his extravaganzas more often than not end with very late night dance parties). I am more of a homebody myself, so I opted out of his wild and crazy festivities and offered to cook him a quiet dinner instead. Planning a heartfelt meal is the easiest way for me to show I care.


I always ask dinner guests if they have any personal requests. For my friend, it was no pork and no booze. His love of cheese may even surpass mine, so I plotted a scrumptious cheese course with all my current favorites. To wash it all down, I whipped up a zippy fresh ginger mocktail, because you can’t start out a dinner party without a signature cocktail. (For the drinkers, just add vodka!)

Dinner was a super simple chicken Marsala, a dish I personally think is comfort food at its best. (Don’t worry, he doesn’t mind wine in his food as long as the alcohol gets cooked out.) I paired it with the best smashed potatoes I have ever made, which included horseradish and a heap of shredded Gouda. The sweet-and-savory mushrooms poured over the crisp chicken and cheesy potatoes seemed a match made in heaven.

For dessert, there was coffee, caramel cake, and good conversation late into the evening. It was a birthday to remember, for me at least. I know I will be dreaming of that luscious sauce for years to come.


Chicken Marsala

Serves 4-6

For the chicken:

  • 3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 1/2 pounds), split into 6 cutlets
  • Wondra flour or all-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Marsala mushroom sauce:

  • 1 pound baby Bella or button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 cup dry Marsala wine
  • 1 cup warm beef stock, preferably homemade or low-sodium
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca flour, optional for a thicker sauce (see Recipe Notes, below)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Preheat oven on its lowest setting (160°F or so).
  • Place the cutlets between two layers of plastic wrap and pound each to 1/4″ thickness. Pat dry and season with salt and pepper. Dust with flour. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter. Working in batches, brown the chicken, about 3 minutes per side. Place in an ovenproof baking dish, cover with aluminum foil, and keep warm in the oven. (See Recipe Notes, below.)
  • With the heat still on medium-high, add the mushrooms to the skillet and, if there isn’t oil left from the chicken, up to 2 tablespoons additional butter. Add the mushrooms and cook until their juices start to release, about 3 minutes. Add the Marsala and cook at a vigorous simmer until reduced by half, about 15 minutes. (Do not stir.) Add the stock and continue to cook until it reaches a thick, saucy consistency, another 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and swirl in the remaining tablespoon of butter. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Pour the mushroom sauce over the chicken. Serve with mashed potatoes or white rice.

Recipe Notes:

  • If you don’t mind using another pan, you can sauté the chicken while the sauce is reducing. This trims a few minutes off the cooking time and you avoid having to hold it in the oven. Add the pan drippings to the sauce.
  • A tasty variation is to place a slice of mozzarella or provolone (à la cheesecake factory) on top of each cooked chicken cutlet and heat under the broiler until cheese is melted. Top with the mushroom sauce.
  • I like to use tapioca flour (also known as tapioca starch) to thicken my stock-based sauces. It allows me to reduce them a little bit less, meaning I get more yield. Tapioca starch is tasteless and gives the sauce a nice, glossy sheen. Towards the end of cooking, whisk 1 tablespoon tapioca flour with a tablespoon of water and add to the sauce. Reduce heat to medium-low and whisk until desired texture is reached. Season with salt and pepper.

By: Nealey Dozier

***Grabbed From: