When I was very young, my father was pastor of a large church in a small town, one that’s now almost a suburb of Columbus, but that in the late 70’s was a small place with a small college, a big grain elevator, and a handful of factories.
My parent’s social circle – in addition to the congregation – was highly linked to the local college. That meant dinner parties. As a preacher’s wife, my mom was already expected to entertain in a cultured maner. And because it was the 1970’s in flyover country that meant things like Fondue, various meatballs, and of course, Chicken Marsala.
There were a few reasons for the later dish. First of all, veal, which would have been a more traditional protein, was (and still is) essentially unobtainable in most Central Ohio grocery stores. Secondly, it was fast, flexible, and generally sure to please both pseudo-sophisticates, and those with less adventurous palettes.
That flagship of 1970s dinner party dishes, has hung on through the decades because it is easy to make, uses ingredients you can find in pretty much any grocery store, and …well, it is really delicious. My version is heavy with mushrooms. They both bulk out the dish, and – because mushrooms have a lot of umami flavors – really deepen and improve the flavors.
Chicken Thigh MarsalaCourse: MainCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Medium
A quick and easy chicken thigh take on classic Chicken Marsala.
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup marsala wine
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp kosher salt, divided
½ cup AP flour
16 oz white button mushrooms
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tbsp unsalted butter
- Working one at a time, place each thigh between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound until the thigh is of even thickness – ideally about ¼ inch.
- Mix flour and 1 tsp of salt, and spread onto a clean, dry plate.
- Dredge each pounded thigh in the flour and salt mixture.
- Allowing the thighs to rest on a rack on a sheet pan in the refrigerator to hydrate the flour for at least 20 minutes will help the flour to adhere better when cooked.
- Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a dry towel. Trim the ends of the stems, and slice into ¼-inch slices.
- Trim, peel, and slice the shallot into thin slices.
- Add 2 tbsp butter to a pan over medium heat.
- As soon as the butter stops foaming, add the chicken, working in batches if necessary, and cook until the coating begins to brown (about three minutes).
- Turn the chicken and repeat on the other side.
- Once the chicken is lightly browned, remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
- Add the shallots and the mushrooms to the pan, season with 1 tsp salt, and sauté until the shallots are translucent and the mushrooms are lightly browned.
- Deglaze the pan with ½ cup of marsala, add the black pepper, half the thyme, and chicken stock to the pan.
- Bring to a simmer, and reduce by a third. Taste for seasoning. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Return the chicken to the pan and simmer until cooked through (about 10 minutes).
- To serve, spoon the mushrooms and sauce over each piece, and sprinkle with fresh thyme.
- Serve with fresh pasta, boiled potatoes, or even mashed potatoes.