Rich and silky with an earthly aroma and woodsy brown color, Chicken Marsala is a favorite at the Italian-American table. It’s made with slightly sweet and deliciously savory Marsala wine, along with plenty of mushrooms and, of course, chicken cutlets. Unlike Chicken Parmigiana, the recipe for Chicken Marsala ditches the breadcrumbs and instead locks in the moisture by dredging the chicken in flour. The resulting dish features golden, pan-fried chicken with a lusciously creamy mushroom-studded sauce, spiked with garlic and made succulent with butter and oil.
Though variations abound, there are mainly two ways to go about making this Chicken Marsala. First, there’s the labor-intensive “from scratch” version where you use your own ingredients, including a bottle of Marsala wine, to develop the sauce. Then there’s the quicker, “weekday-friendly” version that features a jar of Paesana’s Marsala Gourmet Cooking Sauce. The version featuring our sauce is much better in a pinch, as you needn’t have Marsala wine or fresh mushrooms on hand.
But at Paesana, we know that part of home cooking is actually learning about technique and getting comfortable using an array of ingredients. That is why we choose to feature both recipes here: From scratch and from the jar.
Clean mushrooms by simply wiping away excess dirt with a moist paper towel. Do not run under running water, as this can damage the delicate mushroom. Remove that dry tip of the stem and then slice or quarter the mushrooms. Set aside.
Cut the chicken breasts into cutlets. Lay the full-sized breast on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to slice horizontally across the breast, creating thin cutlets. Repeat with all the breasts, then season each one with salt.
In a large bowl or plate, add the flour and season it with salt and pepper. Dredge each chicken cutlet thoroughly and set aside on a plate.
Next, you’ll need two pans on the stovetop. One will be used to cook the chicken and finish the dish, the other will be used to cook the mushrooms.
First, the mushrooms. Add olive oil to the pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and once they begin to brown, add most of the fresh thyme, along with the shallot (or onion) and garlic. When the mushrooms have browned thoroughly and the garlic and shallot (or onion) have taken on a light brown hue, turn off the heat and set aside.
It’s crucial that you do not allow the garlic to burn, as it will become unpleasantly bitter. You might want to add the shallot (or onion) first, then add the garlic just before turning off the heat. You can also add chicken stock or water to the pan to prevent the garlic from burning.
Let's Continue 'From Scratch' ...
Time to cook the chicken. In a large, high-rimmed pan, add ¼ olive oil over medium to medium-high heat. When sufficiently hot, add the chicken and allow it to brown on both sides. You don’t need to cook the chicken all the way through at this step. You just want to ensure it’s nicely browned on both sides. Once browned, transfer to a plate and set aside.
Turn off the heat and in the same pan where you just cooked the chicken, add the Marsala wine. Once added, turn the heat back on and cook on high heat to reduce the wine. As the wine reduces, use a wooden spoon to scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. This is where a lot of the flavor lives.
Once the wine has been reduced, add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Then, add the mushrooms, along with the garlic and shallot (or onion). Reduce the liquid by half, then add the chicken back to the pan and reduce heat to a simmer. This will slowly finish cooking the chicken in the sauce.
As the sauce reduces, it will thicken and begin to glaze the chicken. This process is what will help you achieve tender chicken cutlets.
Once the sauce has thickened enough that it coats the chicken, turn off the heat and add the cold butter, along with the rest of the thyme and all of the chopped parsley. Swirl the butter to create a creamy sauce.
At this point, taste the sauce for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if needed.
Serve directly from the pan or place cutlets in a serving dish and ladle some of the sauce overtop, leaving some sauce in the pan for anyone that wants an extra helping.
Be sure to have plenty of crusty Italian bread on hand!
Directions ‘From Jar’
You’ll notice the directions for the “from the jar” method using Paesana’s Marsala sauce is far less complicated and much more conducive to a quick, weeknight meal.
Prep the chicken in the same way that’s stated above. If you want full slices of mushrooms in your Marsala sauce, prepare 1 pound of Cremini mushrooms as stated above.
Follow the steps above for cooking the chicken. When browned, set aside.
If using the extra mushrooms, add them to the same pan you cooked the chicken. Season with salt and pepper.
When the mushrooms have browned, add Paesana Marsala sauce. As the sauce cooks, be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
Return the chicken to the pan and allow it to cook thoroughly.
For an extra rich sauce, swirl in the cold butter.
Check for seasoning and serve immediately with crusty Italian bread!
Paesana means friendship, warmth and caring, which is what our family is all about. That’s why we honor our great-grandmother to reflect pride in our family’s Italian heritage. One taste and you’ll discover our sauces and condiments are like no other – Created from the finest quality ingredients!