Chicken Marsala (w/ wine pairings)

Chicken Marsala

One of my wife’s all time favorite things for me to cook is Chicken Marsala. For some reason, though, I haven’t made the dish in years. I can’t exactly say why… Maybe too many years working at an Italian restaurant and I got sick of looking at Italian classics, let alone cook them. My wife says it’s because I’m a food snob and the dish isn’t “sexy enough” for me… lol. Who knows. Whatever the reason, it’s been a while and I decided to surprise her the other night with it. Of course it was delicious, and of course I made the mistake of saying “why don’t I make this more often?”. Yeah, that comment netted me an eye roll and snort from the wife.

Anyway, here’s the recipe for the chicken, super easy to make… Enjoy.

Serves 2

2 Chicken Breasts, split and boneless (4 individual breasts)
1/2c All Purpose Flour
1tsp Salt (for dredge)
1tsp Ground Black Pepper (for dredge)
2tbsp Olive Oil
2tbsp Unsalted Butter
2c Fresh Mushrooms, sliced (I prefer baby Portobello)
2 Cloves of Garlic, chopped
1 1/2c Marsala Wine
1c Chicken Stock
1/2tsp Salt (for sauté)
1/2tsp Ground Black Pepper (for sauté)

Combine the flour, salt and black pepper. Lightly coat the chicken breasts in the mixture, shake off any excess. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan on high heat. Place the chicken in the oil and cook until the bottom is lightly browned, 2-3 minutes. Turn the chicken, then add the mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper, sauté together for 2-3 minutes. Add the Marsala wine and allow to reduce by half, then add the chicken stock. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover, simmer for 10 minutes. About a minute before it’s done cooking add the unsalted butter and stir it into the sauce. This will give more depth of flavor to the sauce.

Plate the chicken, then top it with the mushrooms and sauce, viola, fini! That was easy huh!? Why go to an Italian restaurant and pay $15-20 when it’s so easy to do at home?

As far as sides it’s your call. I opted to do a rice with parmesan, spinach and garlic cooked in a risotto style. If you’re interested in making something along these lines feel free to check out one of my previous dishes that had risotto, like Go nuts!

So let’s talk wine pairings. You don’t want to go too big with this dish. A big red like a Cabernet, Sangiovese or Zinfandel will simply overwhelm not only the chicken, but the subtle sweetness of the Marsala sauce. You’re better off going with a full bodied white like Chardonnay, Viognier, Chenin Blanc, etc., or a light to medium bodied red like Gamay, Pinot Noir, Frappato or Grenache Gris. Here are a handful of recommendations for you…

Michel Guignier Morgon Vieilles Vignes, Beaujolais, France – Unfortunately over the past 20 years Beaujolais has become synonymous with cheap and light… Wines like Georges Duboeuf’s Beaujolais Nouveau that are mass produced, sub-par, sourced juice that people buy because it’s floor stacked at $8.99 and has a flashy label. It is truly upsetting, because there are many great Beaujolais producers that are putting out some wines that can go toe-to-toe with 1′er Cru Burgundies! Michel Guignier is one of those producers… I think John Gilman of “View from the Cellar” said it best, so I’ll share his review of this wine. “The old vine bottling of Morgon from Michel Guignier hails from sixty-one year-old vines in the vineyards of La Roche Pilée and Les Grands Cras. The 2011 Vieilles Vignes offers up a deep, red fruity and very pure nose of cherries, sweet cranberries, woodsmoke, beautiful herb tones, a complex base of soil, a touch of orange peel, incipient notes of gamebird and a gently smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and beautifully delineated, with a fine core of fruit, superb transparency, very good acids and fairly moderate tannins for the vintage and simply stunning length and grip on the vibrant and youthful finish. This is a dynamite and absolutely classic bottle of Morgon in the making!” I couldn’t have said it better myself John! PP Score: 90 (Retail $17-21)

Valle dell’Acate Frappato Vittoria, Sicily, Italy – Valle dell’Acate is one of most storied estates in Sicily, having been established by the Jocono family in the 19th century. They have 110 hectares of land, half of which is devoted to vineyard, the other half is a world class blood orange orchard… Probably not surprising that a number of their wines have subtle orange notes! Their Frappato is simply stunning. James Suckling did a fair job describing the wine in his 90 point review, so I’ll pass the mic to him… “Really delicious with sliced strawberries and sour cherries on the nose and palate. Medium body, with fresh acidity and a clean finish. Tangy and delicately fruity.” Well said James, thought personally I feel 90 to be a little conservative. PP Score: 92 (Retail $17-20)

Point North Pinot Noir, Oregon – Point North is the newest addition to the Sean Minor lineup, one of my favorite guys in the biz. Sean was the operations manager at King Estates in Willamette Valley before he and his wife Nicole started Sean Minor Winery in Napa, and he’s always wanted to make a wine from his old stomping grounds. The wine is a blend of Pinot Noir sourced from top vineyards throughout the Willamette Valley and Umpqua appellations. In the glass you find a medium bodied wine with notes of dark cherry, tart raspberry, ripe strawberry and cola, balanced by moderate acidity, soft tannins and subtle nuances of oak. As with all wines that Sean produces, this wine is an extraordinary value for the price, drinking as well or better than bottles that are $10-15 more on the shelf. Luckily Sean makes a fair amount of the wine and it can be found in most major markets. If your local store doesn’t carry it, tell them to get it! PP Score: 91 (Retail $16-20)

LOLA Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, California – It shouldn’t come as a shocker for anyone that I’m recommending this wine, I made my affinity for it apparent by featuring it in my first ever “A wine you should know…” article ( In the glass the wine shows a pale golden hue. On the nose there are notes of Gala apple, pineapple, and candied lemon, along with a very subtle oak presence. On the palate the first thing, and the last thing, to hit you is very pleasant acidity. It literally travels from the tip of your tongue, along the edges and to the back. Mid palate you’ll find beautifully balanced notes of tropical fruit and citrus zest, with the oak once again working as a supporting actor, and there is just the slightest undertone of minerality. Despite minimal oak aging (only 20% neutral French barrel, 80% stainless) and malolactic fermentation (only 20%) the wine still has good weight and depth. I find that it rides the middle ground between being Chablisian and typical Californian. Think Bourgogne Blanc from declassified Meursault or Puligny-Montrachet and you’ll be hitting pretty close to the mark. The finish is a little hot despite only being 13% alcohol, but not unpleasantly so. As I said in my article, this wine isn’t the easiest to find with only 1,400 cases produced and minimal distribution throughout the States, but it’s definitely worth the hunt. You can also order online through their website, PP Score: 90 (Retail $19-25)

So there you have it, my easy and delicious Chicken Marsala recipe, and the wines that I recommend with it. As always, new content is coming soon. In the meantime crack open a bottle of something awesome, sit back, and relax. Life is short, enjoy it!


Published by Derek Martin

Husband, dad, home cook, wine snob... lover of bacon. I have spent my entire adult life surrounded by fine food and fine wines, starting with fifteen years working at, or running, some of New Jersey's top restaurants, and now the last two years working for one of the top fine wine distributors in the United States. I have absorbed a ton of information on food, wine, pairings and techniques during those seventeen years, and I'd love to share what I've learned with you!

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