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Friday, February 4, 2011

chicken marsala

So after a day's rest for my serious injury to my head, and arguably my brain, I'm back on top.  Well, technically Lola is on top of my knees licking the back of my laptop.  But I digress.

I made an absolute gastronomic masterpiece last night for my lucky husband.  He came home from a very long day at work to Chicken Marsala with Sauteed Carrots in Marsala and a homemade carrot cake.  The depth of flavor in this delicious chicken recipe was naturally complimented by the sweet glaze on the carrots.  It was supposedly Carrot Cake day so I decided it was time I made something nice and sweet for the hubby and he got a serving of veggies for dessert!

Anyway, this recipe wasn't necessarily more difficult than the others.  Ok, yes it was.  But it still wasn't difficult and with a little preparation anyone can make this delicious, restaurant style dish.  Let's start with the Chicken Marsala.  

Chicken Marsala
In order to make this as easy as possible, I measured out each of my ingredients ahead of time, and lined them up on the kitchen counter for easy access.  Both this recipe and the sauteed carrots require attention at the last minute so in order for them both to be ready at the same time, it's important to have everything close at hand.  Expect to have lots of little dishes to wash at the end of this meal from your preparation.  But trust me, it's worth it!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (fat trimmed)
1 cup unbleached flour
Salt & black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable 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 or pressed through garlic press
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 1/2 cup sweet Marsala wine
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Adjust oven rack to the lower-middle position, place a large heatproof dinner plate on the rack, and heat oven to 200.  Pat the chicken breasts dry.  Place the flour in a shallow baking dish or pie plate (I use paper plates for this).  Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper to taste.  Working with one cutlet at a time, coat both sides with flour.  Shake off excess and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a 12 inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium high heat until.  Place the floured cutlets in a single layer in the skillet and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes.  Using tongs, flip the cutlets and cook on second side until golden brown, or about 3 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to the heated plate and return the plate to the oven.  

Return the skillet to low heat and add the pancetta (I used American bacon and it took a little longer, but still tasted really good).  Saute, stirring occasionally and scraping the pan bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen browned bits, until the pancetta is brown and crisp, about 4 minutes.  With a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a paper towel lined plate.

Add the mushrooms to the pan and increase the heat to medium high. Saute, stirring until the liquid released by the mushrooms begin to brown, about 8 minutes.  Add the garlic, tomato paste, and cooked pancetta and cook, stirring constantly until the tomato paste begins to brown, about 1 minute.  Off the heat, add the Marsala (if you add the wine to the pan while on the heat, especially on a gas oven, you run the risk of a large fire).  Return the pan to high heat and simmer vigorously, scraping the browned bits from the pan bottom, until the sauce is slightly syrupy and reduced to about 1 1/4 cups, about 5 minutes.  Off the heat, add the lemon juice and any chicken juice from the pan in the oven.  Whisk in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time.  Stir in the parsley and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Serve immediately.

(NOTE:  I made this with chicken tenderloins (chicken fingers) and they were tough and dry.  Definitely stick to the whole chicken breast for this recipe.)

Sauteed Carrots with Marsala
1 pound whole carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices on the bias
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sweet Marsala wine
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley leaves
Ground black pepper

Bring carrots, 1/2 teaspoon salt, thyme, and 1/2 cup wine to a boil in the covered twelve inch skillet over medium high heat.  Reduce the heat to the medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are just tender when poked with the tip of a paring knife, about 5 minutes.

Uncover, increase the heat to high, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced to about 2 tablespoons, 1 -2 minutes.  Add the butter and sugar, toss the carrots to coat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are completely tender and the glaze is light-golden, about 3 minutes.

Off the heat, add the remaining 1 tablespoon Marsala, the lemon juice, and the parsley.  Toss to coat.  Transfer the carrots to a serving bowl.  Discard the sprig of thyme, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately. 

(NOTE:  When I made this recipe I must have used the butter directions from the Chicken recipe because I added 4 tablespoons.  It turned out really well with a buttery sweet glaze on the carrots.)

I haven't a clue what I'll make tonight, but if it is anything good I will be sure to share.  Happy cooking!  I'm off to terrorize a squirrel that has the audacity to be on top of my patio furniture!!!  

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