Saturday, October 31, 2009

Anti-Halloween Dinner: Chicken Marsala

This post will feature no pumpkins, no desserts incorporating Halloween candy, and certainly no gory- and/or spooky-looking food of any kind. I am a Halloween grinch. Enough said.

Actually, one more thing to add: my mom's a Halloween grinch, too. Maybe it's because she's from England and didn't have it growing up. I think that's where I got it from. She "forgot" to get candy, so we enjoyed the evening with the outside lights off and shades drawn to ward off potential trick-or-treaters. We still got one, though.

Instead, we enjoyed a nice meal. It was lovely to get away for the weekend to visit my parents and I look forward to visiting my husband's family tomorrow. I didn't bring my camera home, but was able to snap a few pictures using my mom's camera. The lighting conditions were less than ideal, and thus, the picture qualities are less than stellar. Still delicious, though. And, you get to see my parents' new kitchen countertop.

Earlier today, I managed to catch my favorite television show, America's Test Kitchen, where they made garlic mashed potatoes using a slightly modified method. I was also carrying on a conversation at the time, so I didn't get the exact method and quantities, but I think I recreated it fairly well with the ingredients that were on hand. I also left out a lot of butter, but they were still delicious (especially with the Marsala sauce!). And, I should mention that my mom did most of the work on the chicken and also made a lovely side of broccoli (my favorite veg). Good job, Mom!

Chicken Marsala
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
Serves 4

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
3 ounces pancetta or bacon, finely chopped
8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced or quartered
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 1/2 cups sweet Marsala
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into three pieces and chilled
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees and adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Put flour in a shallow dish or pie plate.
2. Pound the thicker ends of the chicken breasts, or cut breasts into cutlets and pound to even thinness, if you prefer. Pat dry with paper towels, season with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour.
3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add chicken and cook each side until lightly golden brown. If going the cutlet route, you will need to do two batches and they will cook faster. When done, transfer to a platter in the oven to keep warm.
4. Add remaining tablespoon oil and return to medium-high heat until shimmering. Add pancetta and mushrooms. Cooking until the pancetta is crisp and mushrooms are brown, about 10 minutes.
5. Add garlic and tomato paste and cook 1 minutes. Add Marsala, being sure to scrape up all the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, and simmer until reduced and syrupy, about 8 minutes.
6. Stir in lemon juice and any accumulated chicken juice. Over low heat, whisk in butter once piece at a time. Off the heat, stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen
Serves 4

4-5 large red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into small-medium pieces
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter, plus more to taste
Half and half (or milk)
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter over medium-low heat and add minced garlic. Cook until pale golden and beginning to stick in clumps. Add the raw potatoes and half-and-half or milk and water in equal parts until all but covering the potatoes. Give a good stir and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes). Mash potatoes, adding more butter if desired, and season to taste.

Whew! That's it. I should add that the men-folk in the house (my dad and husband) were slightly concerned about how strong the garlic would be in the potatoes based upon the smell of the initial garlic cooking. They were pleasantly surprised, as the initial cooking really mellows the garlic flavor. Give 'em a try!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

It's been a while...

Food blogging proves to be a difficult activity with grad school, rehearsals, concerts, work, and decreasing daylight hours. So, here's a short post on two unrelated topics:

A couple recent pictures of my horse, Bear. We went on a trail ride and it was fun.

All ready to head home...

Also, if you need a smile, be sure to check out My Milk Toof. It's adorable.

That's it for now. Food blogging resumes sometime in the future...