Feb 122013

I’ve been trying to find the perfect chicken marsala recipe for me and I believe I’ve found it. This recipe might seem like a lot of steps, but it’s easy to put together and worth the time. I like to serve it over pasta, with mashed potatoes or roasted potatoes.

Chicken Marsala

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 slices of pancetta or bacon, chopped
2 cups white or cremini mushrooms
2 large garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tbsp.)
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1  cup Marsala wine (sweet)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 lemon, juiced
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, place large heatproof dinner plate on oven rack, and heat oven to 200 degrees.  Meanwhile, pound the chicken breasts to a 1/2 inch thickness in between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Pat chicken breasts dry. Place flour in shallow baking dish or pie plate. Season both sides of chicken cutlets with salt and pepper. Working one piece at a time, coat both sides of chicken breasts with flour. Shake to remove excess flour, and set aside.

Heat oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, about 3 minutes.  Place floured cutlets in single layer in skillet and cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Using tongs, flip cutlets and cook on second side until golden brown and meat feels firm when pressed with finger, about 4 minutes longer.  Transfer chicken to heated plate and return plate to oven to keep warm.

Return skillet to low heat and add pancetta or bacon; saute, stirring occasionally and scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits until pancetta is brown and crisp, about 6 minutes. With slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel–lined plate.

Add mushrooms and increase heat to medium-high; saute, stirring occasionally and scraping pan bottom, until liquid released by mushrooms evaporates and mushrooms begin to brown, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and shallot and saute for 1 minute. Add tomato paste, and cook until paste begins to brown, about 1 minute.

Add Marsala and chicken stock, and increase heat to high.  Scrape browned bits from pan bottom, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until sauce is slightly syrupy and reduced to about 1 1/4 cups, about 5 minutes.

Off heat, add lemon juice and any accumulated juices from chicken in the oven; whisk in butter 1 tablespoon at a time.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir in parsley. Return chicken breasts and pancetta to pan and simmer in sauce for a few minutes before serving.

Cook’s note: This recipe can easily be halved to serve two. Skip the chicken stock and use 3/4 cup Marsala wine. All other ingredients should be halved.

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Feb 032013

The great thing about risotto is it’s versatility. Once you have mastered the cooking technique for this italian-style comfort food, the versions you can make are endless. This recipe is a simple basic risotto with parmesan and peas. Don’t get discouraged if it takes a couple of tries to get the rice perfect!

Risotto with Peas

2 cans (14.5 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons butter
Coarse salt and ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat broth and water together in a small saucepan over low heat; keep warm. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in large pot over medium heat and add onion; cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add rice and cook while stirring, until translucent around edges, about 3 minutes. Add wine and cook until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Cook rice adding 1 cup hot broth at a time (stir until almost all liquid is absorbed before adding more), until rice is tender, 25 to 30 minutes total. You can add more water if needed. Add peas and cook until peas are heated, 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in remaining tablespoon butter and Parmesan. Add more salt if needed. Serve, topped with more cheese.