Classic Chicken Marsala is an easy and delicious chicken dinner, with boneless chicken and mushrooms in a Marsala wine sauce.
I seem to be sharing a lot of classics lately, which I tend to be drawn to early in the cooler weather season. It seems I always start with the classics.
Classic Chicken Marsala has been in regular rotation here for more years that I can count. It's a dish that has so much to recommend it. It's quick and easy, so it's perfect for weeknight meals. It's also delicious, which is always good and especially good when it comes along with the quick and easy part.
Chicken Marsala is easy enough for weeknights, but also special enough for company.
This easy chicken dinner cooks up quickly in a hot skillet, so it's on the table in just about 30 minutes!
Boneless Chicken Breasts: While you can find thin chicken fillets, I prefer to buy the whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cut them in half myself. Either will work here though. The thin fillets will cook more quickly.
Shallots: If you have shallots on hand, they are the best choice here. Alternately, you can use a red or yellow onion.
Mushrooms: You can use any mushrooms here. I like a mix of button and cremini mushrooms. I like to buy them whole and slice them myself, but pre-sliced mushrooms are fine.
Marsala Wine: You'll want to use a Dry Marsala Wine. If you are heading out to buy some for your kitchen, you'll find it in with the Fortified Wines. The brand I use is called Sperone Fine I.P. and is labeled "Dry".
Marsala wine has a distinctive flavour that is not easily duplicated, but in a pinch, a nice red wine will work here.
Heavy Cream: Heavy cream is generally used in sauces that contain wine, as it's fat content prevents it from "splitting". A lighter cream can be used, but may split (produce tiny white pebbles of fat in the sauce). If using a lighter, thinner cream, you can either mix with 1 tsp of cornstarch to thicken the sauce or reduce the chicken stock slightly for a thicker sauce that way.
Flouring the chicken before frying gives it a light coating that "browns" more easily than just cooking the chicken plain. I think it's nice that the chicken have a little colour, but it's not a necessary step, so if you prefer, you can skip the flour on the chicken.
Be sure your chicken is cooked through at the start, before removing to the plate, as it won't cook additionally at the end.
Take your time when cooking the mushrooms and let them cook until deep golden brown. The extra few minutes makes for a much nicer finished dish.
Use a meat pounder or a cast iron skillet to pound your chicken breasts after slicing them in half. They don't have to be super thin, but they should be evenly thick. Starting with thin and even pieces of chicken ensures quick and even cooking.
Be sure to taste your sauce at the end of cooking and add additional salt and freshly ground pepper, as needed, to bring all the flavours together.
For a gluten-free dish, skip the flour on the chicken and the flour sprinkled on the mushrooms. Thicken the sauce at the end of cooking with a mixture of 2 tsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder mixed with 1 Tbsp cold water. Add to the hot sauce and cook until the sauce thickens.
Top Tip! This dish cooks quickly over high heat and it's of great benefit to have all your ingredients measured and handy beside the stove, to add to the hot skillet as needed.
While this dish is best cooked and enjoyed right away, it can be made ahead and reheated. I might skip the flour on the chicken if the intention is to make ahead and reheat, as it might have a tendency to become a little soft at best or mushy, at worst. To reheat, simply cook through adding the chicken back to the sauce, then cool slightly, cover and refrigerate right in the skillet. When ready to serve, gently heat over low heat until re-warmed.
Wondering what to serve with Chicken Marsala? I love it with mashed potatoes, to take advantage of the generous, delicious sauce. It's also nice on it's own with a simple side salad.
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Classic Chicken Marsala
- 3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, for dredging
- 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 medium shallots, finely diced, can substitute red or yellow onion
- 8-10 oz button or cremini mushrooms, or a mix of mushrooms, sliced
- 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup dry Marsala wine
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 3 Tbsp heavy cream
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Halve the chicken breasts lengthwise. Using a meat pounder or a heavy skillet, pound the pieces until evenly thick. Season with salt and pepper. Add the 1/3 cup of flour to a plate and lightly coat each piece of chicken in flour, shaking off the excess. Set aside while the skillet heats.
- In a heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the 3 Tbsp olive oil together with the 1 Tbsp butter over medium-high heat (or a touch higher even). When the butter is foaming, add the floured chicken pieces, adding only as many as will fit flat with an inch at least in between. (Do in batches, if necessary). Cook until the underside is golden, then flip and cook the other side as well, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to a plate.
- Melt the remaining 2 Tbsp butter in the pan. Add the shallots and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring for about 30 seconds, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the mushrooms and cook until all of the mushroom liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are golden, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Add the Marsala. Allow the Marsala to boil until almost completely evaporated.
- Once the Marsala has almost completely evaporated, add the chicken broth and cook until the mixture is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cream. Return the chicken to the pan and allow it to sit in the simmering sauce to re-warm.
- If desired, garnish with chopped parsley or fresh or dried thyme leaves.
Nutritional information provided for general guidance only and should not be relied upon to make personal health decisions.