What is Chicken Marsala?

Cathy Rogers

Chicken Marsala is a popular chicken dish with a wine and mushroom sauce. The dish name originates from the particular wine, Marsala, used to create the sauce. The wine is reduced to make a rich, thick sauce that often contains onions or shallots as well as various spices and mushrooms.

Chicken Marsala contains chicken with a sauce made from wine and mushrooms.
Chicken Marsala contains chicken with a sauce made from wine and mushrooms.

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.

Marsala wine is instrumental in the creation of chicken Marsala sauce.
Marsala wine is instrumental in the creation of chicken Marsala sauce.

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.

Some chicken marsala recipes include capers.
Some chicken marsala recipes include capers.

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.

Chicken marsala often includes shallots.
Chicken marsala often includes shallots.

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.

Mushrooms are usually included in chicken Marsala recipes.
Mushrooms are usually included in chicken Marsala recipes.

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.

Parmesan is a hard, aged cheese used in many dishes.
Parmesan is a hard, aged cheese used in many dishes.
Salt and pepper may be used to season chicken marsala.
Salt and pepper may be used to season chicken marsala.
Parsley can be used to season chicken marsala.
Parsley can be used to season chicken marsala.
Sicily produces marsala.
Sicily produces marsala.
Chicken marsala starts with boneless chicken breasts.
Chicken marsala starts with boneless chicken breasts.
Preparation of the chicken for Marsala begins by sauteing the flour-coated breasts in olive oil.
Preparation of the chicken for Marsala begins by sauteing the flour-coated breasts in olive oil.
Chicken marsala recipes call for boneless breasts of chicken.
Chicken marsala recipes call for boneless breasts of chicken.
Oregano is a basic seasoning included in chicken marsala.
Oregano is a basic seasoning included in chicken marsala.

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Discussion Comments

Vaclav

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.

meandcoffee

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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