Chicken Marsala with Brown Butter Pasta
Chicken marsala is an Italian American dish made from chicken cutlets, mushrooms, and Marsala wine. The dish dates back to the 19th century, when it most likely originated with English families who lived in the western Sicily region, where Marsala wine is produced. The chicken is coated in flour, briefly sautéed, and then removed from the pan, which is then used to make a Marsala reduction sauce. The sauce is made by reducing the wine to nearly the consistency of a syrup while adding onions or shallots, as well as mushrooms, herbs and possibly other ingredients. The sauce is then poured over the chicken, which has been kept in a warming oven, and served immediately.
In an alternative method, the chicken breasts may be braised in a mixture of Marsala, butter, olive oil, mushrooms, and spices.
Here Video Chicken Marsala
Start out by trimming and cleaning your chicken breasts well, and then pounding them down to ½ inch thick. I use a large freezer baggie for this. Get as much of the air out as you can before sealing it, then pound with a rolling pin. The baggie keeps in all the raw chicken juices, and keeps your counters and rolling pin clean. You can also use a couple pieces of wax paper.
Now melt the butter and toss some oil into a large frying pan. Let it heat up and put in the sliced mushrooms and green onions. Cook until the water from the mushrooms is released and cooked off, and the mushrooms are beginning to brown.
Here’s a close up of the mushroom after they are cooked.
Coat the chicken in your flour and marjoram mixture just before adding to the hot oil. Brown the coated chicken. Add more butter/oil as needed. You want as little oil as possible, but it helps keep the butter and bits from burning. Try not to crowd the pan too much.
Here is the foam. The butter/oil mixture will do this after a bit. Keep a CLOSE watch on it. Make sure your temp is high enough to cook and brown the chicken well, but not hot enough to burn the butter and bits of flour/flavor that are collecting on the bottom of the pan. There have been a few ruined sauces due to these bits going from brown to black. This is caused from heat being too high. No one likes the taste of burnt unless its a nice char on the outside of a steak! If you DO overcook the oil/butter/bits, do not fear. If you still have more chicken to cook, start with a fresh clean pan, melt some more butter, add in a bit more oil, and start again. If you’ve already cooked all the chicken you can still make the sauce by melting some more butter in a fresh pan, adding the stock and wine, and simmering, but it won’t be as good as it normally would be. Passable, but not nearly as flavorful.
Close-up of cooked chicken, set aside.
After you have cooked all the chicken, remove it from the pan, and set it aside, add in your marsala wine and chicken stock. Let simmer for 2-3 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently, and then add back in the mushrooms, onions, and chicken.
Get the best Marsala that you can. It definitely makes a difference in the end result.
Here is the whole mixture cooking down. The sauce will be thin when you first add everything back into the pan. Once it simmers about 20 minutes it’ll thicken up from some of the flour coating that it steals off the chicken. This is a good thing. A delicious, amazing, good thing. If for some reason it does not thicken up don’t be afraid to use a little cornstarch slurry to get it where it needs to be.
Butter, browning. See those brown bits rising to the top? WATCH it! It’s almost there. Swish it around a bit to keep an eye on it, remove just after you think you need to. Improperly browned butter just tastes greasy. Its unique and really adds a whole new dimension to the pasta when done correctly.
The finished product.
It was worth it.
Chicken Marsala with Brown Butter Pasta
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 35 – 45 minutes
Total time: 1 hour +
Yield: 8 servings
- 4 chicken breasts – large – pounded to 1/2 inch and cut into cutlets
- 1 lb mushrooms sliced
- 2 bunches green onions chopped
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 tsp marjoram
- 3/4 tsp salt
- dash pepper
- 2.5 sticks butter, divided
- 4 Tbsp vegetable oil divided
- 1 cup dry Marsala wine
- 2 cups chicken broth
- pinch of salt – to taste
- 1/2 cup parmisiano reggiano or myzithra cheese
- 1 lb pasta – spaghetti
- Rinse, trim fat, and pound to 1/2 inch each chicken breast. Slice into cutlets and set aside.
Melt 1/2 stick of butter and 2 Tbsp vegetable oil in a large skillet. Heat over medium-high until butter is melted. Add mushrooms and green onions. Saute over medium-high heat until water is cooked out of mushrooms and they are starting to brown. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Add another 1/2 stick of butter to the pan. Add more oil if necessary. The oil helps the butter not to burn. Also start your large pot of boiling water for the pasta at this point.
- Combine flour, marjoram, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Lightly coat chicken breasts in flour and place in a single layer in frying pan over medium heat. Allow to brown on both sides. Remove and repeat with remaining breast cutlets. Remove all when done, leaving behind the butter and brown bits in the pan. It is okay if there is a bit of pink in the middle. They will cook more in the sauce at the end.
- Add Marsala and let simmer for approximately 1 minute. Add chicken broth. Stir to combine and add in mushroom/onion mixture and chicken breasts. Stir a bit and then let simmer over medium-low heat. Cook until sauce is thickened, approximately 20 minutes.
While your sauce is simmering and thickening is the time to start your brown butter. In a small pot melt 1/2 stick of butter over medium heat. Don’t touch it, but watch it carefully. It will start to bubble, foam, and under that foam it will start to brown. Brown well, removing from heat just before you think it’ll burn. If you under-brown it you end up with greasy pasta. If you brown it well you end up with little bites of heaven.
- When pasta is done, drain well and toss with browned butter and grated parmigiano reggiano or myzithra cheese.