Grant McWilliams

Food Chicken Marsala

Chicken Marsala

Two days ago we had Chicken Tikka Masala and tonight we prepared Chicken Marsala. People who know us have a hard time telling these apart because the names are almost identical but there's no two dishes further apart than these two. Chicken Tikka Masala is Indian and Chicken Marsala is Italian/Sicilian. The former gains it's flavor from Garam Masala spices and the latter from what I think is the nicest of the fortified wines including Port, Sherry and Madeira - Marsala.  The wine we refer to as Marsala was born out of a Brits fondness for the then popular Port which was unavailable in Sicily. A fortified wine is one that has added alcohol added to it such as ethanol. Yes, people do that! Port is a fortified wine from Portugal as does Madeira which come from the likely named islands off the west coast of Africa. Sherry comes from Spain and Marsala comes from the city of Marsala in Sicily and is my favorite of the four. Chicken Marsala is a favorite dish amongst the southern Italians and I think I've about perfected it. The secret to great Chicken Marsala is the amount of fond you're able to build up in the pan and the quality of Marsala you use. I've tried just about every Marsala from every store in the area and I've settled on two. Unlike a Cab, Merlot or virtually any other wine you usually only have one variety of Marsala per store so if you don't like the one you had the last time you have to drive to the next store to try a different variety. My two favorites are Opici Italian Sweet Marsala available at Central Market in Mill Creek and Pellegrini Italian Sweet Marsala available at PCC markets. I use only sweet Marsala in my recipe but if you want to use dry you can add a touch of grade B maple (Grade A is not as strong)  to your sauce for a nice variation. The other issues with Chicken Marsala is getting a decent Pancetta which can be a bit difficult. Central Market had an awesome one but they've since changed brands and I don't like the new one as much but it's edible. Costco's Pancetta is pretty bad as is most pancettas you get in a package. I'm still looking for a replacement so I'll keep you posted. The last thing I'm a bit picky about is using Portobella's instead of Crimini (baby portobellas) or god forbid Oyster mushrooms. The mushrooms give up quite a bit of moisture and shrink in the process so you really want a good meaty mushroom.

Food Chicken Marsala