Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Chicken and Mushroom Marsala

From Cooking For Engineers

3 chicken breasts

salt and pepper to taste

4 oz mushrooms, sliced

1 cup sweet marsala cooking wine

4 tbsp heavy cream
Pasta, cooked according to package

1. Brine the chicken breasts. Brining is the act of soaking ingredients (in our case, chicken) in water with salt (and sometimes sugar). This soak causes salt to penetrate into the chicken meat and at the same time pulls more water in. The meat becomes more plump and flavorful. Brining a chicken breast prior to cooking makes it much easier to produce a tender, juicy breast. Brine chicken breasts in a plastic bag with 4 cups water with 4 Tbs. table salt for one hour. After an hour, remove the breasts and rinse off the breasts (or they will be too salty).

2. If your chicken breasts are too thick, consider cutting them in half.

3. Salt and pepper the breasts. Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil on medium-high and pan fry the breasts for a few minutes. The exact time depends on the thickeness of the breasts. The breast will change color while it's cooking from pink to white. When the bottom half has changed color, flip the breasts over and cook the raw side of the breast.

4. Cut a hole into the thickest part of a breast and see what color liquid flows out. If the liquid has tints of color and is opaque, then keep cooking the chicken. If the liquid is clear (like oily water), then the chicken breast is done.

5. Remove the fully cooked chicken to a plate and throw the mushrooms into the pan. Don't worry if there are burnt bits of chicken still in the pan because these will help flavor the sauce. If there are any larger chunks of chicken, remove them because they will overcook and become stringy and tough. Spread the mushrooms into a single layer and allow them to cook for a minute.

6. Pour the cup of sweet Marsala wine into the pan a this point and allow it to reduce for a couple minutes. We want it to thicken slightly, but not so much that it coats the back of a spoon.

7. Now pour in four tablespoons heavy cream and mix until integrated.

8. Stir occassionally until this mixture reduces to the point where it will coat the back of a spoon or leave a trail at the bottom of the pan when scraped

9. At this point, reintroduce the breasts and roll them around in the sauce until they have been coated with sauce and have warmed up again.

10. Turn off the heat and move the breasts to a serving tray, covering with mushrooms and sauce. The breast meat should be perfectly tender and juicy while the sauce clings to any available surface.

11. Serve with any type of pasta.



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