I have been making Chicken Marsala for ages. I probably first encountered at in the 1970s at The Grape, a Dallas restaurant. It was love at first bite. My first recipe to use as a guide came from The Cooking of Italy published by Time-Life Books in 1968. The recipe there was “Scaloppine al Marsala” or Sautéed Veal Scallops with Marsala Sauce. Switching out the main ingredient with chicken worked perfectly. Basically, it was a simple recipe — chicken, olive oil, butter, Marsala wine and stock.
Chicken Marsala is one of my main “go to” dishes when I’m too lazy to look for something new. Over the years I have added onions or shallots and mushrooms. Recently I found a recipe on epicurious.com for Chicken Marsala with Sage. Adding the sage to my evolving recipe was a hit, and using oyster mushrooms instead of white or crimini was perfect. The family proclaimed it the best Marsala I have made to date.
Marsala is the name of a fortified wine produced in the region surrounding the Sicilian city, Marsala. Fortified wines, such as sherries and port, are “fortified” by the addition of a brandy or neutral grain spirit to boost the alcohol content. The taste of Marsala alone is unremarkable to me, but using it in cooking does create something remarkable.
Recently I found myself craving this dish but my cooking day was surrounded by chicken-rich menus so I made “Pork Marsala”. All were pleased with the substitution.
Chicken Marsala with Oyster Mushrooms and Sage
I usually use boneless, skinless chicken thighs and sometimes the breast meat. The thighs are much more economical and flavorful.
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
- 1 cup (240 ml.) Marsala wine
- 1 cup (240 ml.) low-sodium chicken stock or homemade if you have it
- 1 large shallot
- 1½ tablespoons (22 ml.) fresh sage, chopped
- Several whole sage leaves for garnish
- 4 oz. (110 gr.) oyster mushrooms or any wild mushroom of your choice
- ¼ cup (60 ml.) olive oil
- Salt and fresh ground pepper
- All-purpose flour
- Pound the chicken between two sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper to about ¼-inch (about .6 cm.) thickness. (I use plastic wrap and a wooden meat tenderizer that has multiple surfaces — two flat sides, one end with grooves and the other end with multiple points. If you’re using wax paper, the flat side would be best, as the paper is easily punctured. You can also use a rolling pin or the bottom of a heavy pan or skillet.)
- Lightly season with salt and fresh ground pepper.
- Dredge in all-purpose flour, shaking off excess.
- Heat oil in a sauté pan large enough to hold the chicken. (If your pan is too small, sauté two at a time. You may need to add additional oil between batches.)
- Add the chopped sage and sauté for a couple of minutes.
- Add the chicken and sauté until lightly browned; turn chicken over and brown other side.
- Remove chicken to a plate, cover and keep warm.
- Sauté the shallots until soft then add the mushrooms and continue cooking until they soften as well.
- De-glaze the pan with the Marsala and stock, scraping up all the caramelized brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
- At this point, I thicken the sauce with a little flour while whisking constantly. (An instant flour called Wondra brand by Gold Medal is excellent for this.)
- Add the chicken back to the pan and spoon some of the sauce over it, cover and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
- Remove the chicken to plates or a platter, spoon the sauce with the mushrooms over the chicken and garnish with the fresh sage leaves.
Note: When making a sauce like this, I frequently swirl in a tablespoon (15 ml.) or two (30 ml.) of unsalted butter at the end and maybe a light squeeze of lemon for brightness. I have also lightened up this recipe over the years by substituting olive oil for the more traditional butter.
We enjoyed this with a leftover bottle of King Estate 2008 Signature Pinot Gris.
King Estate Winemaker’s Notes:
Appearance: Golden straw with brilliant luminosity
Aroma: Fresh pear, peach blossom, lime, grapefruit, and floral notes
Flavor: Lively citrus, peach, tropical fruit, mineral, and honey
About the Author (Author Profile)
Music, food and photography are at the center of Charles’ life. He performed with the Dallas Symphony, Dallas Opera and was assistant principal bassoonist with the Fort Worth Symphony for more than 20 years. When Charles and Victor moved to Baltimore, Charles created Lone Star Personal Chef and Catering Service and taught cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma. Now in Salem, Charles is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Mountain West Real Estate, taught cooking classes for children at the A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village, and owns and operates Charles Price Photography. Charles and Vic enjoy entertaining and frequently host dinners as fundraisers for local non-profits and charities