During my restaurant years, one of my favorite things to do was combine flavors, and of course my favorite way to prepare those dishes was saute’. If I miss anything about my restaurant days, it would have be my Mise en place, that incredible array of ingredients, that I built my dishes from.
Of course there were items that were standard that you would find every night, items that I made the menu offerings from, and then there were the ingredients that I used for the nightly specials, and those would always be at my discretion. Sometimes the dishes were simple, perhaps just an ingredient or two to take the dish in a slightly different direction, and some times the the ingredients were many and would come together in a symphony of flavors! There was no exact science or method that I followed, because each dish took what it took until it became what I wanted it to be.
I won’t say that I always knew where I was going with each dish, sometimes I would experiment with flavors and textures, while other times the ingredients would almost speak to me, telling me who they should be paired with…..of course I didn’t always listen, and more times than not, I got amazing results.
One of the dishes I started experimenting with was my Chicken Marsala, everyone loved it and quite frankly its really difficult to enjoy anyone else’s Marsala after you’ve had mine, it’s just that good, so I was a little concerned when I first started adding ingredients into the mix. After all you don’t want to screw with perfection! The first adaptation of the dish was really simple adding tomatoes and spinach to the dish, then topping it with provolone cheese. I have to admit it came out really well, and I began serving it over pasta as a special, and that’s when Chicken Marselena was born.
While it was true that everyone really enjoyed this dish, it still seemed to be lacking something, just a little push of an unexpected flavor. Chicken Pepperoni had always been one of my favorite dishes to make and to eat and I loved how the pepperoni punched up the dish….but I wasn’t sure at first how it would go with the subtle flavors of marsala. All I can say is it was a match made in heaven, the flavors came together perfectly, neither overpowering the other…..it was magical, and oh so delicious!
- 4-6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 cup (70 gm) sliced mushrooms
- 4 oz ( 75 gm) baby spinach
- ½ cup (113 gm) grape tomatoes sliced in half
- 1 oz (28 gm) sliced pepperoni
- 6 oz (180 ml) sweet marsala
- 6 oz (180 ml) chicken stock
- 2 tbsp. (30 gm) unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp. (15 gm) flour
- ½ lb. (230 gm) linguine or spaghetti
- Cook pasta per instructions on the box at the same time you begin cooking this dish.
- dredge chicken thighs in flour seasoned with salt and pepper
- place floured thighs in a large saute pan with enough olive oil to saute them.
- Cook chicken 5 minutes on each side and remove from the pan.
- add a little more olive oil to the pan and add in the sliced mushrooms and saute until soft
- add grape tomatoes, pepperoni and spinach and continue to saute until spinach is wilted
- Add all but 2 ounces of marsala wine wine to pan to deglaze the pan, allow alcohol to cook off for a minute then add the chicken stock,and a pinch of black pepper; place chicken thighs back into the pan.
- reduce heat and continue to cook while sauce is reducing.
- Take the butter and coat it in flour pressing flour into the butter and add to the sauce (this is called a beurre manie) it will thicken the sauce and the butter will impart a rich flavor
- as the sauce begins to thicken lower heat to simmer, and add remaining marsala.
- Place sliced provolone over top of the chicken and cover with a lid until cheese is fully melted. (or you can Place the pan in a 300 degree oven for about 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted)
- Serve over pasta and enjoy!
I promise you’ll get rave reviews with this dish, and you may have noticed I used Chicken thighs in this recipe. I always preferred thighs to breasts, but the general public seemed to shun chicken thighs for the more prestigious breasts. Now it seems that the roles have reversed and the trend is going for flavor which the chicken thighs certainly have more of. The other great thing about chicken thighs is they’re less expensive, so when I’m buying free range chicken they cost a lot less than the breasts would, so in my book it’s a win-win situation. But again it’s a personal choice and which ever portion of the chicken you prefer to use, this dish will still be delicious! And when you’re buying Marsala, remember if there’s a choice between sweet and dry, go with the sweet, it’s got a much better flavor!
Thanks for stopping by my restaurant kitchen, and I’ll see you all real soon!