I'll be the first to admit that I've been a bit lax in keeping up with my assignments for the Cooking Italy group, hosted by the lovely Angela at Spinach Tiger, where we are learning to cook classic Italian dishes from Marcella Hazan's "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking". However, we have a new schedule out and it was high time for me to get back into the swing of things.
Our first assignment for the year was Veal Marsala, and since Marsala just happens to be one of my favourite ingredients I was eager to give this one a try. Veal was not available at my butcher when I checked, which actually I was kind of relieved about since from an ethical point of view I do have some reservations about eating veal. It has also pretty much been my experience that when veal is available, you almost need a small mortgage in order to pay for it. We had been told however that we could substitute chicken for the assignment, and that is exactly what I did. Double score - no ethical dilemna over free-range organic chicken and doubtless a considerable cost saving as well. I mentioned in discussions with the group that I also thought this dish would be great made with pork chops, and I can't wait to try that - one of our group, Glennis at Cantbelieveweate, did just that and found that the Marsala sauce was indeed a great match for the pork chops - you can check out her post here.
This dish could not possibly be simpler, and was the perfect "dinner in 15 minutes" dish. In actual fact, I chose to serve this with some little potatoes roasted with olive oil and rosemary, so my dinner was a little longer getting to the table, but you could serve this just with a simple salad and you would indeed have dinner in 15 minutes. Despite being one of the most effortless meals you will ever create, the deliciousness is way out of all proportion to the minimal effort that goes in - which just goes to prove once again that when you put together a few simple, but great ingredients in just exactly the right way, you really don't have to do much to them to deliver greatness. The simplicity of this dish makes it great for a mid-week family meal, of course, but it is also easily elegant enough to serve for company and you won't be neglecting your guests while you spend half the night in the kitchen.
Marsala Chicken Recipe
Adapted from Marcella Hazan's
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2x free-range organic chicken breasts
flaky sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup Marsala wine (* see note below)
First of all place chicken breasts (one at a time) into a large plastic bag, or between two sheets of Gladwrap or parchment paper, and pound out using a rolling pin (or other heavy object) until the chicken breasts are about 1cm (not quite 1/2 inch) thick.
Set a skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil and half of the butter.
While the fat is heating, spread some flour out onto a plate and, as soon as the fat is hot, coat both sides of the chicken in the flour, shake off any excess and add carefully to the pan. (Note: don't pre-flour your meat - dredge it just immediately before it goes into the pan, otherwise the flour will become all gloopy).
Brown the chicken breasts well on both sides and as soon as they are cooked through, remove them to a warm plate and sprinkle with flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Turn the heat up to high, add in the Marsala, scraping the bottom of the pan as it bubbles away to loosen any "browning bits". Add the remainder of the butter, and any juices that have emerged from the chicken on the plate, and stir until the juices in the pan are no longer runny and have become sauce-like in density. Turn the heat down to low, return the chicken to the pan, and turn them over in the sauce a couple of times to coat them well with the sauce.
Turn the chicken and all the sauce out onto a warm serving dish and serve at once.
* Note: Marcella's recipe calls for using dry Marsala. It is my understanding that Marsala comes in three levels of sweetness - secco (dry), semisecco (semi-dry or I guess semi-sweet, depending on your point of view), and sweet. I used semisecco, because that is what I had and I certainly didn't find it too sweet.
Do visit my Cooking Italy page to learn more about the group (maybe you'd even like to join in - you don't have to have a blog to join the group and cook along with everyone else), find links to other members of the group, and links to all the Cooking Italy recipes I've cooked so far.
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I'm also submitting this post to Cookbook Sundays, hosted by the lovely Brenda at Brenda's Canadian Kitchen. She's worth a visit any day of the week, but why not head over there right now and see who else has dusted off their cookbooks - you'll almost certainly find some great recipes, and maybe you'll discover a new book you'd like to add to your collection.