Food can bring back memories, and memories can bring back food. I went to a wedding once, not one of my finer moments. The wedding was for one of my now husband’s cousins. At the time, I was busy having a nervous breakdown about the fact that I was still not engaged and being asked to step out of family pictures. My husband is from a very Italian family. His uncle is a deacon in the Catholic church, and this wedding was for the eldest of his four daughters. So aside from the fact that I was totally inappropriately dressed (dress too red, too dressy, and too revealing to boot), somehow in my anger/sadness/worry about my impending need to dump my boyfriend because he wouldn’t propose, I had a bit too much to drink. The meal was catered by another Italian friend, and the entree was Chicken Marsala. I don’t think I’d ever had chicken Marsala before, but in my memory, it was delicious. The next morning, I wasn’t so sure.
Anyhow, that night is not one I’ve often liked to revisit over the years. As we close in on a decade since the event, I suddenly had the desire to attempt my own chicken Marsala. I love that my husband is from a very Italian family. I’ve always joked that I’m a first generation American. Not that *I* emigrated here, but our lineage is becoming such the melting pot, I don’t even know what to call myself other than American. My mother is quite the genealogist and would assure you that this is not true, and that we have very specific western European lineage, but combine that with my dad and it’s all pretty muddled at this point. When my husband’s grandfather was dying, I cooked a lot of meals for him. It was the only thing I knew how to do, the only way I knew how to contribute. I’d try to cook things he liked or asked for, but a renal diet is rather challenging. But I think Grandpa would have liked this chicken Marsala. Not that he was picky with me, he mainly said everything I cooked was wonderful. In fact once he joked that I could cater my own next wedding. (Which I definitely do not plan on having!)
So I completely spaced out when planning what to serve with this dish. I completely forgot about pasta all together. After ruling out couscous (we had it last night) and black beans (totally inappropriate) I settled on lentils. The husband and kids liked it, but the sauce would have been much more suited to pasta.
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts, butterflied, then pounded thin
fresh ground pepper
5 tbsps butter, divided
16 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 cups dry Marsala wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
chives for garnish
Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Dredge each in flour in a shallow bowl. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, add 2 tbsp olive oil, then 1 tbsp butter. Shake excess flour from chicken, then brown in skillet, about 3-4 minutes per side, minding your heat and adding additional olive oil to your chicken to keep the flour browning. Only cook about 3 chicken pieces at a time. When browned, remove chicken to plate and set aside.
Add 1 tbsp butter to skillet then add mushrooms. Cook over medium high heat about 6-8 minutes or until liquid has released, and mushrooms begin to brown. Add Marsala wine and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced by half. Add chicken stock, garlic, lemon juice, and remaining 3 tbsps of butter. Cook 4 more minutes, then add chicken back to skillet. Cover and cook 6-7 minutes, turning once. Serve over pasta and garnish with chives.