Pretty much every time my brother offers to cook me dinner and ask what I want my response is the same, chicken marsala. For me a good chicken marsala is all about the sweet richness of the sauce. Normally I get so caught up in the sauce and mushrooms that the chicken tends to kind of fade into the background. This time I wanted the chicken to take center stage along with the sauce. I found that the key to that is braising.
Braising is probably the most delicious form of meat preparation. How it works is you first sear the meat, and most importantly the chicken skin over a high heat. This causes the outside of the meat to become beautiful and brown and renders any fat found in the chicken skin. Then you build your sauce and finish cooking the meat in the sauce over a low heat for a long time causing the meat to become incredibly tender. Cooking low and slow is a very popular cooking method in traditional southern food because the genesis of southern cuisine revolved around cooking very tough cuts of meat and often times even offal, organ meat. So to sum it up braising gives your meat maximum flavor and tenderness. Thanks to braising the chicken finally lives up to the marsala sauce to create a truly special dish.
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 8 oz cremini/baby bella mushrooms
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3-5 sprigs fresh thyme, tied together
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 cup marsala wine
- 1 cup chicken broth
- salt, pepper, sugar to taste
Preheat your oven to 450. In a pan heat the butter and oil over medium high heat. Season both sides of your chicken with salt and pepper. When the pan is hot enough place the chicken skin side down. You want to cook it until it is thoroughly browned and crispy, about 5-8 minutes. Flip your chicken and cook it for about 3-5 minutes on the other side and then remove the chicken from the pan. Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook until they start to lose their moisture and shrink up in size, about five minutes. Then add the garlic and cook it for about 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and mix it into the oil and rendered chicken fat in the pan completely. Let it cook for about 2-4 minutes to get the raw flour taste out.
Add the marsala wine to the pan and cook it for another 2-3 minutes to let the alcohol burn off and follow that up with the chicken stock and thyme bundle. Stir the sauce completely and let it cook for 1-2 minutes just so it can become a homogenous mixture. Turn the heat down to low and place the chicken back in the pan skin side down. You’ll want the chicken to cook for a half hour over the low heat per side. To me the one downside to braising is that the chicken skin becomes soggy, so after the chicken has finished simmering in the sauce I put it in a 450 degree oven for 5-8 minutes just to help bring the skin back to life. Doing that also leaves you the perfect opportunity to finish the sauce. Remove the thyme bundle and add any salt and pepper it may need, and I also like adding a couple pinches of sugar just to help bring out the sweetness of the marsala wine.
I served the dish over mashed potatoes, recipe here, and with a spinach salad on the side.