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Chicken Marsala – That Won’t Cost $13 + tip!

February 14, 2011

I’ve been on an Italian kick lately…not sure why.  Chicken Marsala is one of those dishes that I didn’t try until I was in my 20’s, mainly because I couldn’t order anything other than Chicken Parm.  I’ve made Chicken Marsala a few times and it is shockingly simple to make.  For our Valentine’s Dinner, I tried Emeril’s recipe which isn’t much different than any other recipe out there.  This is such a basic dish, but remarkably, some restaurants can’t make it well.  Now you don’t have to wonder if the Marsala you order is going to be any good, you can just make it yourself!

Adapted from Emeril Lagasse, FoodNetwork.com

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour  – I had checked out Olive Garden’s recipe and went with their suggestion to use Wondra flour.  It’s really fine and gives the chicken a nice, light dusting of flour.  Add a little more to thicken your sauce.
  • 1 tablespoon Essence, recipe follows
  • 2 (6 to 8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in halves and pounded thin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups sliced mushrooms (cremini, oyster, shiitake)  – I used a combination of cremini (baby bellas) and white button
  • 3/4 cup Marsala
  • 1 cup chicken stock  – stock, not broth.
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Chopped chives, for garnish

Essence (Emeril’s Creole Seasoning):

Make extra and keep it on hand.  It’s a fabulous addition to…almost anything!

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

You must use pounded chicken breasts or you’ll be waiting for a long time for those big knockers to cook.  My preferred method is to cut the chicken breasts in half so they aren’t quite so thick, then put them in a gallon sized freezer bag and gently pound them with the flat side of my meat tenderizer until they are about 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick.  Small, quick taps will help prevent the chicken from tearing…if you hit them like you’re trying to kill them, you’ll have torn up chicken that will taste fine but not look so pretty.


In a shallow bowl or plate combine the flour and Essence and stir to combine thoroughly. Quickly dredge the chicken breast halves in the seasoned flour mixture, shaking to remove any excess flour.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter (I just used olive oil – then I didn’t have to feel so bad about adding the butter later) and cook the chicken breasts until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side – don’t overcook, once the edges of the chicken start to turn white, flip them over (they will be golden with an orange tint because of the seasoning).

Transfer to a plate and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon of the remaining butter to the pan and add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are golden brown around the edges and have given off their liquid. Add the Marsala wine and bring to a boil, scraping to remove any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. When the wine has reduced by half – I gave it about 8 minutes, add the chicken stock and cook for 3 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly. Lower the heat to medium and return the chicken breasts to the pan and continue to cook until they are cooked through and the sauce has thickened, about 5 to 6 minutes. At this point I didn’t feel my sauce was thick enough, so I sprinkled in 1 Tablespoon of Wondra flour and then it was perfect. Swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, add salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with chopped chives and serve immediately.

PREP: 10-20 minutes   COOK: 30 minutes   SERVINGS: 4

This is a fabulous marsala as a base, but I still think you should adjust it to your liking.  Personally, I prefer more Marsala and less stock, about a 2 to 1 ratio – the Olive Garden doesn’t use any stock, just Marsala.  I have found that you have to cook the sauce down far too long to reach the consistency I like, so add a little Wondra and save yourself some time.

In my 20’s I ordered Chicken Marsala almost every time I went out to an Italian restaurant.  Now, I don’t know if I will ever again!  Why?!  It’s just too easy to make at home.  I’ll order the time consuming stuff…like fresh gnocchi and lasagna.  Mangia!

LEVEL: Easy   TIME: 40 minutes   GRADE: B+


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Lynne permalink
    February 15, 2011 8:51 pm

    What? No garlic? How can you have chicken (or veal) Marsala without garlic?

    • Relina the "Recipe Tester" permalink
      February 15, 2011 10:14 pm

      I thought the same but the recipes I came across did not call for garlic – most are very basic. It was hard for me to refrain from adding it anyway, but for the test’s sake, I held back. Normally, I will add a clove or two. 🙂 I ran across one recipe that added shallots (um, for sure!), fresh sage, and lemon zest. I will play with it for a while and come up with my favorite version. So, keep an eye out for an update to this recipe.

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