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What is Chicken Marsala? Discover the Rich Flavors of This Classic Italian Dish

By Cathy Rogers
Updated May 16, 2024
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What is Chicken Marsala?

Savor the essence of Italian cuisine with Chicken Marsala, a classic dish where simplicity meets elegance. According to the Italian Trade Agency, Marsala wine, essential to this recipe, hails from Sicily and has been a cherished export since the late 18th century. This dish features chicken cutlets, pan-seared to perfection, then draped in a velvety sauce crafted from the reduction of Marsala wine. A study by the National Chicken Council shows that chicken consumption in the U.S. has steadily increased, highlighting the meat's popularity and versatility in dishes like Chicken Marsala. The sauce is enriched with earthy mushrooms and aromatic shallots, with herbs and spices adding layers of flavor. What is Chicken Marsala? It's not just a meal; it's an experience of rich, indulgent taste that brings a touch of Italian finesse to your dining table.

Marsala is produced in Sicily, Italy, and is one of the country's most famous wines. Its flavor can range from sweet to dry, and it is used as a dessert wine or aperitif, as well as added to other ingredients for a variety of dishes, like chicken or veal Marsala.

Chicken Marsala is a traditional Italian dish that starts with boneless chicken breasts that are coated, usually with flour. The sauce for it is made of butter, olive oil, mushrooms, Marsala wine, and sherry. Salt, pepper and oregano season the dish. Some recipes also include capers and lemon juice. The popularity of the dish dates back to the 19th century, when it most likely originated with English families who lived in the western Sicily region, where the Marsala wine is produced.

To prepare chicken Marsala, chicken breasts are pounded into thin pieces and coated with flour. They are then cooked over medium heat in olive oil, turned occasionally. The dish is seasoned with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Once the chicken is cooked, half a bottle of Marsala wine is poured over the chicken and stired gently as it thickens. Parsley and capers are then added, if desired, to season the dish.

The sauce used in chicken Marsala is created by reducing the wine, along with onions or shallots, to a syrup-like consistency before adding seasonings and mushrooms. The sauce used for this dish is also used on pork or veal dishes and sometimes contains heavy cream. Other recipes exist for vegetables, such as carrots, with Marsala sauce.

Marsala wine is made from white grapes, including grillo, inzolia, and catarratto. This amber wine has a rich, smoky flavor, and it can be served with strong cheeses, such as Parmesan, Gorgonzola, or Roquefort. Marsala is a fortified wine that contains ethyl alcohol, which was once needed to preserve it on ocean voyages. The mass production of Marsala wine began in the late 18th century.

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Discussion Comments
By Vaclav — On May 08, 2011

I have this great easy chicken marsala recipe that calls for carrots and red peppers. I make it sometimes on the weekends so we can have leftovers. After it sits in the refrigerator overnight, the flavors are even better. My teenagers request this dish often.

By meandcoffee — On May 07, 2011

I have a recipe for chicken marsala that calls for extra mushrooms and capers. I think it is absolutely delicious. I have tried other recipes, but I think this recipe is the best. There are tons of variations out there, but I think I will stick to my personal fav.

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