Sep 25, 2009
Chicken Marsala with Brown Rice Pilaf
Herbed chicken breast in a Marsala wine sauce reduction with mushrooms, onions, and of course, lots of garlic. The chicken is lightly browned then simmered until nice and tender while the sweet/savory sauce slightly thickens. I served this with a long grain brown rice pilaf with roasted red peppers and toasted almonds. To top off the meal, a freshly baked warm and rich brown bread, reminiscent of what you find served in restaurants. I'll have to blog the bread another day however, for the steps are lengthy, but it's sooooo worth the effort!
First, I tackled the rice dish. You see, I've tried several recipes for brown rice over the years and I'm always disappointed. Don't get me wrong, I love brown rice...when other people cook it. Mine however, seemed to always either be not cooked enough, too sticky, too wet, or just plain blah. Sure, I would throw whatever in it for flavor, that part I get. It's the cooking methods that I felt were failing, and before you suggest it...I refuse to get a rice cooker, the last thing I need is another gadget that I don't use that takes up valuable space. So here's the recipe and steps along with some explanations of the method.
Brown Rice w/ Roasted Red Peppers Pilaf
1 ½ cup uncooked long grain brown rice
3 cup chicken stock (use low sodium for heart healthy)
2 Tbsp butter or olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh parsley (or any other herbs of choice)
1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers
¼ C toasted almonds
Sliced green onions or fresh parsley for garnish if desired
Preheat your oven to 375F. Lightly spray a 13x9 glass baking dish with cooking spray. Place stock in a saucepan and heat to boiling, reduce heat a bit and let that keep a hot temperature until you're ready to add it to the rice.
Set a dry teflon pan or skillet over medium heat and toss in the sliced almonds. Stir constantly until lightly brown. Stay with it now, don't walk away because once they get hot, they will start to brown quickly. A blink of an eye, and they'll be toast, er uhm, I mean burnt. Once nicely browned, remove them from the skillet and set aside.
Next, place butter in skillet, then throw in the rice, garlic and the herbs. Saute for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly so that rice doesn't burn. This step is crucial for ensuring that the rice doesn't stick together. Turn the heat back up on your broth at this time so it is boiling by the time the rice is ready. You're probably thinking, wow, that's a lot of rice! Actually, I was making a double batch, enough for two meals.
Now, pour your rice into your baking dish, spread it out evenly, and immediately pour the boiling broth over the rice. At first, I poured the broth into the skillet with the rice, then realized, I only had to transfer it again to the dish. So, if your broth isn't hot enough, go ahead and pour it into the rice first, but if it is boiling, take the easier route, pouring it over the rice in the dish. In any case, once it's in the dish, quickly cover with aluminum foil and seal the edges.
Bake it in the preheated oven for 50 minutes. Do not peek, do NOT stir. Stirring the rice while cooking releases the starches and makes it sticky. Take the dish out, fluff the rice with a fork and at this time, add in your roasted peppers. IF the rice is not quite done, you can add a bit more broth or water, but only add a 1/4 cup or less at a time (let it absorb completely before adding more). Replace the foil and recheck it in about 10-15 minutes. (total time is about 1 hour) Take it out of the oven, fluff it again and right before serving, toss in the toasted almonds and garnish. ..ahhhh it's a beautiful thing, is it not?
Here is the original recipe for the chicken and although it is healthy as written, it's so forgiving, that you can make several changes and it would still deliver. For instance, you could use turkey breasts or medallions in place of the chicken, you could saute the breasts w/o dredging them in flour, and you can switch out any of the herbs to suite your own taste. You can even omit the wine if you choose, but why would you want to do that? Afterall....it is Marsala chicken, right?
4 ( 6 ounce each) skinless & boneless chicken breast halves
½ C flour
1 ½ tsp or so of Italian Seasoning Mix (or a Greek seasoning mix, or just oregano and thyme)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter (omit for healthier version, you won't miss it)
½ large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ C button or crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp dried parsley, or 1 Tbsp fresh
1 cup Marsala wine (dry or sweet)
2 cups chicken broth (use low sodium for healthier version)
Salt and Pepper to taste (omit salt for healthier version)
Some recipes tell you to butterfly and pound out the chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap, this time however, I just used the breasts as is. Season your chicken with whatever herbs you choose. (save the parsley, salt and pepper for towards the end) Get all of your ingredients chopped and ready, it moves quickly once you get going. Next, dredge the chicken breasts in the flour and shake off the excess.
With a large sauce pan set on medium-high heat, heat the butter and olive oil. Brown the chicken on both sides, turning only once. Remove chicken to a plate, tent and keep warm while you make the sauce. Once chicken is removed, turn your heat down to medium, leaving the drippings and fond in the pan.
To the pan, add in the onion, garlic and mushrooms. Saute until the vegetables are soft. Next, stir in the wine, stock and parsely and bring to a low boil, cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and tender. This is a good time to look like a pro and sip some of that leftover wine, right Dani? LOL
Add chicken pieces back in, turn heat to a simmer. Cook, without a lid until chicken is done and sauce thickens a bit. This will take about 20 minutes for flatter pieces, 30 min for thicker pieces. Enough time to sip some more wine! If you're not sure what "done" means, (you hear this Amber?) the internal temp should be about 175F. (it will rise to about 180F after you take it out). If you don't have a meat thermometer you can always resort to taking a piece out and cutting it thru the thickest part (shock, gasp) It should be white all the way through with no pink. Now go buy a meat thermometer!
Serve this over any rice really, or even egg noodles or other pasta. I'm tellin' ya, it really doesn't matter because the chicken will be the star! This also reheats well (not that I expect you to have leftovers, I'm just sayin') In any case, I hope you give it a try and enjoy!