Chicken Marsala a 'gourmet' dish easily made at home

Julie Falsetti
For The York Dispatch
Chicken Marsala is a classic Italian-American dish that combines chicken, wine and mushrooms into an elegant meal.

A few years after I left home and returned again to visit, my mother prefaced every meal she served with the comment “I don’t cook gourmet.”

I have no idea why this inferiority complex started. Everyone in my family loved my mother’s cooking and ate heartily. When we visited, leftovers were nonexistent.

In addition to not understanding the reason for the remark, I was at a loss to define what “gourmet” meant, aside from a marketing ploy for frozen dinners. If gourmet means the highest quality fresh ingredients cooked in a skillful manner, then my mother’s meals checked all the boxes.

One dish my mother probably did consider gourmet was her chicken Marsala. It required a trip to the liquor store and a search for then-uncommon ingredients such as shallots and fresh mushrooms.

Popular in restaurants — but easily prepared at home — chicken Marsala is a mouth-watering classic Italian-American dish. Thinly sliced chicken cutlets and mushrooms are pan-fried and then served with a rich Marsala wine sauce. Elegant in presentation, the dish is made in just one pan and comes together in about 30 minutes.

To make the pounding of the chicken less messy, place the cutlets first in a plastic bag. Then use a rolling pin to pound them to the desired thickness.

Marsala is a fortified wine from Sicily, similar to port or sherry. If you only have sherry on hand, it makes a good substitute. Cooking wine from the supermarket contains salt and other additives, so it should be avoided. A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t drink it, don’t cook with it.

Chicken Marsala

1 pound chicken cutlets, pounded to ¼-inch thick

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon flour

5 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

8 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 large shallot, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

½ cup dry Marsala wine

½ cup chicken stock or water

chopped parsley, for garnish

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dredge in ⅓ cup flour. Heat 2 tablespoons oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the chicken, and cook about 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Transfer to a plate, and set aside. Add 2 tablespoons oil and 1 tablespoon butter, and then add the mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are golden brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer to the plate with the chicken, and set aside.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil and then add the shallots and garlic. Cook, stirring, until soft, about 1 minute. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon flour and cook for 2 minutes. Add the Marsala and stock, and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan until slightly thick, about 2 minutes. Taste the sauce for salt, and add if needed.

Return the chicken and mushrooms to the skillet, and cook until heated through. 

Remove from heat, and stir in the remaining butter. Serve garnished with chopped parsley.