Nov 11, 2009

Max's Chicken Marsala

There was a time (I can barely remember it though) when I worked at a cooking school.  I taught the kids' classes, couples' classes, and, of course, Cajun, Creole, and general Southern cookin' classes.  When I wasn't teaching I was assisting...and my favorite class to assist with was the basic cooking technique course.  I'm not a trained chef, but I had the opportunity to learn up-close-and-personal from a very real chef while I was his chef-wanna-be assistant.  Chef Max taught me a lot about general techniques, which sounds dull...complete with the open mouth and drool.  But, as he chanted over and over in his classes, if you know the basic methods you can make anything out of anything.  Actually, that's how he ended the course.  He gave his students a mystery box of assorted ingredients that they had to use, armed with the techniques they had learned, to produce a dish that the entire class would taste.

I learned more working with Chef Max than I had learned in years.  In addition to cooking skills, Max taught me that I can get stuff done under serious time constraints.  He also taught me (without meaning to) that I could never be employed as a chef.  It is a hard job...mentally and physically hard.  And I could never balance family and the hours of a chef.  Even though that's kind of a downer, I had a lot of fun working with Max.  We got along great from the start and worked well together.  I can honestly say that he never once pissed me off.  How often can you say that about a co-worker?

But I moved and Max moved.  And we're both terrible at keeping in touch.

Today's recipe is one of my favorites from my friend, Chef Max.

Mise en place for Chicken Marsala: boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butter, olive oil, seasoned flour, mushrooms, chicken stock, dry Marsala, green onions

Season the flour.  Chef Max uses salt and black pepper.  I also add cayenne 'cause I'm sassy like that.  Dredge chicken in the flour, shake to remove excess.  Raw chicken is not something I like to spend a lot of time looking at.  Let's move on.

Heat olive oil and butter together in a large skillet.  When the oil is hot (and not a second before!), add the chicken.  It should sizzle.

Chef Max would want you to place the chicken presentation side down (the rounded side).  I say I'm hungry and tired and have worked all stinkin' day.  Tonight, it goes in how it goes in.

Sauté until golden brown, then flip.  If it sticks, it's not ready.  Don't force it.  Give it a few more minutes and try again.

Add the mushrooms so they can begin cooking.

When the chicken is brown on both sides and the mushrooms have cooked, add the marsala.  I like to use dry rather than sweet.  I don't like sweet entrees.

Oh, and alcohol is flammable.  So either remove the pan from the heat or cut off the flame when pouring it in.  And never pour directly from the bottle unless you enjoy an occasional molotov cocktail.  Totally up to you.

Deglaze--scrape up all the goodies off the bottom to flavor your sauce.

Add the chicken stock and simmer.  When is it done?  Chef Max would say never rely on time.  Rely on temperature.  165 F for chicken breasts.

Season the sauce with salt and pepper, if needed.  Add the chopped green onions, if that's your thing.  

Serve and eat!

Linking with:

Here's Chef Max's recipe with a few changes I made, like adding green onions.  In case you haven't noticed I add green onion to just about everything.  I never make the entire recipe.  There's only 3 of us, so I make 1/3 of it.  But I don't reduce the mushrooms by 1/3...I use 1/2 of what the original recipe states.  Me, I like a lotta mushrooms.

Max's Chicken Marsala
Ms. enPlace from my friend, Max

(Serves 9)

9 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste
butter and olive oil
1 1/2 lbs medium mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 cups dry marsala wine
3 cups chicken stock
3-4 green onions, chopped

Pat chicken dry. Set aside. Heat butter and oil in sauté pan (enough to cover the bottom).

Generously season the flour with salt and pepper.  Dredge chicken in flour and add to heated butter and oil.  Season the chicken again with salt and pepper.

Sauté until golden brown, then turn over. Salt and pepper again. Add mushrooms and cook until chicken is golden brown on 2nd side.

Remove pan from heat or cut off flame. Deglaze with Marsala wine. Return to heat. Add chicken stock and simmer. Cook until chicken is cooked completely through and sauce has started to thicken.  Just before serving, stir in green onion.  Taste the sauce and add additional seasoning if needed.


  1. I love chicken marsala. It looks terrific. I had to laugh about how you don't like to look at raw chicken. Me neither :D I don't like dealing with raw meat, but raw chicken is especially not my favorite. I do love to eat it though!!

  2. That was interesting to learn about you - that you use to teach at a cooking school! This looks really yummy!!


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