Depending on the time of year, Mark sometimes has to go out of town during the week. This means eating out or making frequent trips to the grocery store for something halfway healthy to eat for dinner. So when he comes home on the weekend, I like to cook him a good home-cooked meal. I love my guy and I love feeding him. The dinner I make either ends up being something that I've been wanting to cook that I saw in a cookbook or on the internet, or other times it's whatever he requests. Last week he called and requested Veal or Chicken Marsala. Since we had chicken breasts on hand, I went with the latter.
Since I haven't cooked out of my Giada book for a while, I reached for my copy of "Everyday Italian" and looked for a Chicken Marsala recipe. She had Veal Marsala - close enough. I decided to pair it up with my own recipe of Herbed Green Pea Risotto. The resulting dish, in my opinion, was very tasty. The gravy was rich, but not thick and had a strong rosemary flavor that I loved. Mark also liked it, but added that it wasn't really a traditional Chicken Marsala. He said the Marsala wine was more of an afterthought, rather than the star of the dish. He thought it tasted good, but that it shouldn't be called a Marsala sauce.
So knowing that, I would say if you want to make a yummy chicken dish with a rosemary gravy, well then here's the dish you're looking for.
Start by getting your risotto made. You can always put it in a bowl when it's done and then nuke it to heat it back up when your chicken is ready to be plated. That's how I did it and it worked out great. Then you're not running around the kitchen trying to time everything.
Since I don't really have a formal recipe for this dish, I'll just describe how I made it. I chopped about 3/4 cup of onion and added it to a pan with 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. I seasoned the onions with sea salt, pepper, dried basil and dried thyme. As that cooked over medium heat for a few minutes, I crushed a couple cloves of garlic, minced them and threw them into the pan.
I sauteed the onions and garlic for a few more minutes, then added a 1/2 cup of uncooked arborio rice. I sauteed the rice, onions, and garlic until the rice started to brown.
I heated a quart of chicken broth over low heat until hot in a seperate sauce pan, then began ladling a little broth at a time into my risotto. If you haven't made risotto before, just remember it this way. The first ladle of broth is to deglaze your pan. It will make a loud sizzling sound at first and you want to stir the broth into the mixture, making sure to scrape the bottom of your pan with a wooden spoon so any brown bits are mixed into your risotto. This adds wonderful flavor to your final product.
Now the key is to keep an eye on your risotto. I have a TV in my kitchen - I highly recommend it if you're a TV head like me. That way, you can pay attention to your food and not miss a thing! So back to the risotto. Once the rice has absorbed the first ladle of broth you added, it's time to add another one. And these are large ladles, by the way. About 3/4 cup at a time. Stir the mixture again and let it simmer over medium heat for a few minutes. Once you see that the rice has absorbed the broth again, add more broth. You continue to follow this method until your rice is al dente and the broth is somewhat creamy. That means it's time to stir in the last few ingredients and take it off the heat.
This time I decided to stir in some frozen peas and a cup of grated parmesan cheese. I hit it with some fresh ground pepper and transferred the finished risotto to a serving bowl. Top it with a little more parmesan cheese so it's pretty.
Now, on to the Chicken Marsala.
Start by again melting a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a saute pan. Season three skinless, boneless chicken breasts with sea salt and pepper, then add them to the pan and brown on both sides. This fed me and Mark - two for him and one for me, so you gauge this for the size of your family.
Once the chicken has browned, remove it from the pan and set aside on a dish. It's more than likely not done inside yet, so no tasting. It will finish cooking when it gets back into the pan. Now, add another tablespoon of butter to the pan.
Yeah baby... how can this be bad?
Add a large chopped shallot and 2 minced garlic cloves and saute for about 30 seconds.
Next add your mushrooms. I would normally use crimini mushrooms or an assorted mix of wild mushrooms, but we happened to have shiitake mushrooms on hand, so I used them. They tasted surprisingly well in this dish by the way. Also add some salt and pepper to season the mushrooms and saute the mushrooms until they begin to brown and the liquid is absorbed.
Now add the Marsala wine and a rosemary sprig. Simmer until the Marsala reduces by half, about 2 minutes.
Now add your chicken broth and simmer again until it reduces by half, about 4 minutes.
Now it's time to return the chicken to the pan. Cook for about 30 seconds, then flip the chicken over to coat it with the sauce on the other side. Remove the rosemary sprig and stir in one more tablespoon of butter. Let the chicken simmer in the sauce for a few more minutes until heated through. Season with salt and pepper and it's done! Plate it up and enjoy a warm, comforting dinner. Perfect on a cold winter day. Hope you like it!