A delicious, but surprisingly easy recipe that results in a restaurant quality dish. Chicken Marsala is an impressive meal that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.
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Chicken Marsala is a classic recipe that every home cook should have in their collection. There are few ingredients, it can be pulled together in a flash, and it’s seriously impressive.
Flour dusted chicken is quickly seared and complemented by a silky Marsala wine sauce studded with mushrooms, shallots and garlic. I love to serve it with mashed potatoes but it’s also delicious with cooked pasta or rice.
Paul and I took a quick and very spontaneous trip about a week ago. It’s one of the many benefits to being the parents of grown kids that we’re slowly beginning to discover. Very sloooowly. You’d think the minute those kids headed off to college we’d have immediately begun living a more spontaneous life, but no, old habits die hard.
There are some other odd things about this grown kids phenomenon as well.
One day as I was out running errands, I glanced back into the huge expanse of my now empty SUV and it struck me. Why the heck am I still driving around in this giant vehicle? Years ago it was packed full of water polo players as we drove back and forth to tournaments or with luggage, boys, and dogs, as we headed to the mountains for our annual summer vacation. But now it’s just kind of ridiculous for me to be driving around in this thing.
And, for God’s sake, why has it taken me four years for this reality to sink in?
So, I bought a new car.
And, it’s pretty. And, it has a sun roof that slides open. And, it perfectly suits my new life as a mom of grown kids.
We packed our bags and headed to the Sierra Mountains in my pretty, somewhat sporty, but still practical car, and had a fabulously fun and relaxing three days with other grown ups. No kids, no dogs, just us. Same location, completely different experience.
I think I’m beginning to get a handle on this thing.
We ate most of our meals at restaurants, something that people with grown kids do.
One night we sat on the deck at Cuccia’s, an Italian restaurant in one of the most peaceful, beautiful settings imaginable. Big trees, gorgeous sky, mountains all around. I ordered the Chicken Marsala and we shared a bottle of red with my brother Jim and my sweet sister-in-law, Gale, who are blessed to live in this beautiful place. It was pretty awesome.
Some Notes on Marsala Wine
Marsala is a fortified wine which means that a distilled spirit, like brandy, has been added. The same is true for both Madeira and Sherry, other popular cooking wines. One great thing about fortified wines is their long shelf life. Some like to refrigerate their re-corked, open bottles but I store mine in my cool, dark pantry and it stays well for many months. Marsala is also quite inexpensive and widely available in the liquor section of most grocery stores.
The best way to illustrate just how easy this dish is to show you so we made this quick video to show you how it’s done.
- 1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup plus 4 teaspoons all-purpose flour, divided
- 4 tablespoons olive oil (or as needed), divided
- 1/4 cup diced shallots
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 8 ounces cremini (brown button) mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon dry thyme or 1 heaping teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 3/4 cup Marsala wine
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon butter, optional
- Italian flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Pound or slice the chicken breasts to 1/4" to 1/2" thickness and cut in half or into smaller portion sized pieces. Season both sides with salt and pepper, to taste.
Add 1/2 cup flour to a shallow dish or bowl (a pie plate works perfectly). Reserve remaining 4 teaspoons flour for later.
Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to a large skillet over MEDIUM-HIGH heat.
Dredge each piece of seasoned chicken breast into the flour, coating both sides, and place into skillet. Cook chicken in batches, if necessary, to avoid overcrowding the skillet. Add additional olive oil between batches, if needed. Cook for approximately 4 to 5 minutes per side, or until nicely browned and cooked through. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.
Return skillet to MEDIUM heat and add an additional tablespoon of olive oil . Add the diced shallot. Cook and stir for a minute or two to soften and then add the garlic. Cook and stir for another minute, until fragrant, and then add mushrooms. Saute the mixture for several minutes to soften mushrooms. Season with thyme, salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste and add 4 teaspoons flour to the skillet. Use a whisk to combine the flour and seasonings with the mushroom mixture.
Add the Marsala to the skillet and increase heat slightly to bring to a boil. Cook and whisk for a minute or two at a low boil. Add chicken stock and continue to cook and whisk until sauce is silky and slightly thickened. If you'd like to create an even silkier sauce, add optional butter and allow it to melt into the sauce.
Reduce heat to LOW and return cooked chicken to the skillet, spooning some of the sauce over each piece.
Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
Play with the seasonings. If you prefer rosemary or sage, either can be substituted for the thyme. Or you can leave the thyme out altogether and the dish will still be delicious.
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