First you buy some boneless, skinless chicken thighs… yes, I prefer the dark meat. Although the Marsala preparation is one of the few ways that chicken breast is moist enough to be reasonably edible past the polite bites, to be honest, after 63 years of life I’ve yet to find a stupendously awesome preparation for chicken (or, especially) turkey breast. So, I know it’s just not going to happen for me. Y’know… after a few decades sometimes you just get to know what just doesn’t do it for you ? Somehow, ya’think?
(AND, think about it… save money, eat chicken thighs!)
If you don’t want to read the discussion of the birds I plan to raise, please just scroll down to the recipe! You’ll see it… big shocking pink headline!
Eh, some folks prefer the breast (which I imagine is often because they are told it is “healthier”), and some of us prefer the dark side of the bird. As far as health goes: I buy free range birds (organic, effectively organic, or otherwise) or failing that, I’ll settle for simply organic birds on occasion. There are indeed more nutrients in the dark meat than the white. Yes, there’s also more fat, but I cut the visible bits off and out. Okay, I’m still a sucker for very very crispy poultry skin… I just establish personal limits, if it pertains to a dish!) Just getting the bird out on the field is a tremendous help! None of this technically-organic “we will open up a small back door on the overpopulated chicken house after they’re too used to being indoors all the time, and hey, so… they didn’t know to go outside! But we’re ORGANIC!” nonsense. And, if they are outdoors, they will have LESS fat, and if they graze as is their nature, it will be a healthier omega ratio of fats. Chickens are omnivores. And, yes, added benefit, they love chowing down on TICKS… Less the rest of us have to worry about crawling upon our own persons… Chickens also love vegetation, too. Just like humans, if they get overcrowded, they suffer. Just like humans, they are indeed omnivores.
I can’t WAIT to raise my own birds. I’m gonna kick them out of doors, into chicken tractors, which will help them survive predators (if I am smart about it). The meat birds won’t be Cornish Cross – I want a breed or two that downplays that breast, awesome cat food as it can make! Plus, they really don’t thrive after over-breeding with being pastured, and they tend to grow so fast (including that so much vaunted breast) that they become too heavy to stand, and can break their legs just by standing on them. At least when I break my own leg (ahem), there’s something more active going on!
So, anyhow: Chicken Marsala. Chicken Marsala is based around the Marsala wines of Sicily, and recipes date back to the 19th century. My recipe isn’t totally authentic even without considering the subbing of both thighs and rice flour, but I admit I was looking for variants I liked to eat the best in the past, to adapt to my fondness for the thighs. I ended up infusing some piccata concepts (capers, lemon) into this dish, as well.
I surfed the Internet a bit, and discovered there are a variety of preparations. I am trying (not as effectively as I’d like… they are a major food group for me, unlike grains) to avoid nightshades – autoimmune condition of uncertain etiology — so adding tomato sauce especially when it is not definitive for Chicken Marsala means I won’t be using it in this recipe.
Some recipes I’ve seen out there use cream or sour cream, some recipes apparently add the capers and lemon, some do not. And, actually, adding the capers and lemon can make this dish a chicken picatta, if one gets technical. I’m creating the style I enjoyed best, and in the meanwhile (since it won’t affect flavor anyway) making this gluten-free. The commonality of a Marsala chicken dish (which makes sense, duh) is the Marsala wine.
Cook Time:10-12 minutes for the chicken, another 6-7 for the rest.
Rest Time: Not needed.
Serves: 2 servings.
Leftover friendly? Yes, save extras in the fridge. I haven’t tested it in the freezer, but should be fine.
Marsala Chicken Thighs, Gluten-Free
- 4 Boneless skinless chicken thighs, remove any fat pads. I use kitchen scissors. (Feel free to sub in two white meat boneless skinless butterflied breasts, if you wish. You can probably cook the meat a couple minutes less.) I cut the thighs in half and would likely do the same for the breasts.
- About 1/4 cup of rice flour.
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, with extra reserved.
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 stick of butter (4 tablespoons)
- 4 tablespoons of oil (I used avocado oil; some recipes use olive oil)
- 4 ounces white button mushrooms (Cremini would be awesome, too), sliced
- 1/2 cup Marsala wine (if you use the cooking variant, there’s salt already added to that, to make it unpalatable for up and up drinking. Omit the earlier salt in such a case).
- 1/4 cup chicken broth (low sodium, or homemade).
- 1 heaping tablespoon capers (rinsed and drained)
- 1/4 cup sour cream (I use whole milk sour cream, which has minimal if any extenders). This is OPTIONAL.
- Juice of 1/2 lemon.
- You can garnish with parsley or cilantro.
Prep all your ingredients so you can move quickly.
Place the meat in a layer in a large gallon zip lock or other sturdy plastic bag, and seal.
Pound the heck out of it with a rubber mallet. I’m not sure where I put mine (I am living out of two kitchens two hours apart…) so I made do with a hard plastic potato masher. This will flatten the meat so it cooks more evenly. They also say it makes meat more tender, but I couldn’t tell.
In a bowl, add the flour, oregano, salt and pepper, mix gently.
Dredge the chicken through, piece by piece. The coating will be very thin. Place on a separate plate.
Melt the oil and butter in a LARGE skillet, medium high.
Add the chicken in a flat layer, and have your splash guard to hand. (Use it.)
Cook a total of 10-12 minutes, flipping about halfway through. Make sure your poultry is crispened and nicely tanned.
Remove the chicken to a clean plate, set aside (perhaps in a warming oven).
Add mushrooms, Marsala, broth, garlic, and any optional extra oregano to the ORIGINAL skillet. Mix around with a spatula until the mushrooms are cooked through, about 5-6 minutes. Add the capers. Cook another minute.
Add the sour cream, allow to cook, while stirring, another 2 minutes.
Remove from heat, add the lemon juice, stir once, and pour over the chicken. Add garnish if desired. Serve it up! This was quite good!
Serving suggestions: I simply had a leafy green salad with a mild vinaigrette on the side. But for serving to others – I suggest colorful zoodles (yellow squash and green zucchini) sauteed briefly to retain some crispness, in a little chicken broth with diced onion or shallot, basil, thyme, a hint of salt, some ground pepper, and perhaps marjoram.
I haven’t tried arrowroot powder or tapioca flour yet in this recipe. I will also make a variant without the cream, while reducing the Marsala sauce down further before serving, as I’d like to test out a strictly-Paleo version. Possibly next time!