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Dinner Rush: Week of April 20
Quick and easy dinner menus for families on the go
Tuesday's Menu
Chicken Marsala & Chicken Piccatta
I remembered this little restaurant across from the Port Authority when I lived in New York City
that was a pasta store in front and a restaurant in back where they served great chicken
Piccata. I think it was called Supreme Macaroni and was where they shot the album cover Billy
Joel's Scenes from an Italian Restaurant but I'm not sure of the latter.

I knew it was basically a flour, lemon and butter sauce but I wanted to find a recipe to refresh my
memory before jumping into it. After looking through a bunch of my favorite Italian cookbooks for chicken or veal piccata
recipes without success.

I started thinking that maybe these aren't Italian dishes but a quick check in my Food Lover's Companion proved to me that
yes, these are indeed from Italy. When I looked in my refrigerator, I realized we didn't have any lemons and this is not an
easy dish to make without a lemon and I didn't feel like running to the grocery store.

Here's where it gets interesting. Since I had already pounded the chicken breasts thin, I lucked out when I looked at the
recipe right next to Piccata on the same page.Veal Marsala.

Hey, this calls for flattened veal cutlets so my chicken breasts will work and I have all the other ingredients so here we go.
For the record, this recipe calls for 4 boneless veal cutlets. I had six chicken breasts already flattened so I cooked all six
and used only three of the breasts for Chicken Marsala and decided to buy a lemon the next day and try my hand at
Chicken Piccata.

There would be leftovers for a delicious quick and easy meal the next night (which is a good thing with two little ones to
take care of) and I would recreate that delicious Chicken Piccata that I remembered from my life in New York City. Life is
good.

The New Basics recipe below for chicken Marsala is good, but I wanted the real thing, a classic Marsala sauce like you get
in your favorite Italian Restaurant. So I called my friend, Chef Ricco, who has forgotten more about cooking than I will ever
know. He learned how to make a classic chicken Marsala from his mother who happened to be Frank Sinatra's family cook
for a number of years.

Chef Ricco gave me step by step details on how to perfect your chicken Marsala at home which I turned into my first 23
page mini eCookbook called Chicken Marsala Perfected. It's more of a cooking lesson on how to saute and make a pan
sauce than just on recipe. It also shows you how to make Marsala Sauce for steak and veal.

INGREDIENTS
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Marsala wine
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh flat-leafed parsley

PREP WORK
Flatten the chicken breasts between two pieces of waxed paper with a meat pounder until thin. If you're not a gadget
person like myself and don't own every kitchen utensil available including a meat pounder, try using the edge of a can of
soup or a small sauté pan.

It's important that you pound the breasts to an equal thickness. This is so they cook evenly and one breast doesn't cook
faster then another.

Slice the mushrooms into thin slices and finely chop the parsley.

HOW TO MAKE AT HOME
Add the butter to a sauté pan, melt over medium heat, add the mushrooms and cook until lightly browned. It's hard to tell
you exactly how long this will take since all stovetops are not alike. Depending on whether you are using a gas or electric
or what make or model, will make a difference. On my household gas stove, it takes 8 - 12 minutes, but on my mom's
electric stove, it takes longer. Remove the mushrooms and reserve.

Add the oil to the pan and up the heat a little. I don't advise cooking at high until you get comfortable cooking at high heat.
It means working a little faster and watching a little closer but you want the pan to be hot to sauté the breasts properly. To
learn more about the technique of sautéing, check out Cooking Techniques.

While the oil is heating up, dredge each chicken breast in flour. What I like to do is put the flour in a shallow soup bowl or
on a plate and using one hand, dip each breast into the flour and add to the pan.

Sauté the breasts for approximately 1-2 minute each side. Remember the chicken breasts will cook faster because they
are thinner. If you are preparing more than four breasts, it's important not to crowd the pan so they sauté and do not
steam. Better to cook in batches then trying to cook them all at once.

Remove the breasts from the pan, reserve on a platter, and cover with tin foil to keep warm.

Add the Marsala wine to the pan to deglaze, scraping the small bits of chicken stuck to the pan. (Remember, Marsala is a
wine and contains alcohol so be careful when adding it to a hot pan. Better to remove the pan from the heat when
deglazing any pan with wine.) Simmer until slightly reduced, approximately 2 minutes, again depending on your stovetop.

Add the reserved mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and parsley.

Plate the chicken breasts along with your sides (I served this with rice) and top with sauce.

The next night I made chicken Piccata with the three leftover chicken breasts that were already cooked. I'm sure the
experts would say the Chicken Piccata loses something because the breasts were already cooked, but to tell you the truth,
I didn't notice that much difference.
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