Fast and Easy Chicken Marsala
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As far as I’m concerned, there is no such thing as too many recipes for dinners that only take a few minutes to throw together, especially during the holidays.
I made a rare, “last minute” shopping trip for a dozen items today. It’s only Monday, but I refuse to go back before Thanksgiving. Actually, I won’t be going there the day after, either. I guess everyone forgets that their family will still need to eat, the week after.
I tend to be claustrophobic and, when I go into a grocery store a few days before a Holiday, the sheer number of shoppers is enough to send me into a panic, and my blood pressure soaring. It’s one of the reasons I have always hated shopping, of any kind. I loathe the feeling of being trapped, stuck behind those people who cluelessly stroll along, 3 abreast, with apparently no sense of urgency to get the heck out of there. They could clearly care less about the back-up they are creating behind them. Ours is a small, polite town, so most people are content to roll their eyes and smile indulgently at their fellow, trapped shoppers.
Sometimes I am forced to cheerfully and politely say, “excuse me,” which, with any luck, will get their attention. Often, their pressing discussions on the meaning of life will affect their ability to hear me. So, I’ll usually try and find a detour. Sadly, it’s usually only a matter of minutes before I hit another human road block.
I am lucky to have a husband who is eager and willing to help me grocery shop. (He is also eager to keep me and our money apart). Twice a month, on his way home from Portland, he’ll pull into a Costco and grab a couple of huge bags of chicken tenders, maybe some pork tenderloins, extra virgin olive oil and nice, big slices of Parmisiano-Reggiano.
I have a nicely built and maintained pantry, with all the dry staples I ever need. I have it organized into condiments, rice and pasta, canned goods, baking goods (including different flours), a Mexican area and an Asian section. It’s easy to tell at a glance what we need more of. I always want at least one bag or can or box for back-up. When I grab the second-to-last can, I write that item on my list. My freezers are full of frozen vegetables and fruits, rolls, back up breads, you name it. There is also a huge selection of homemade pumpkin puree, tomatillo salsa verde, red salsa, pesto, tomato sauce, chicken and turkey broth.
So, even when I run low on fresh vegetables, I can always throw some sort of meal together. And I always keep both a bag of russet potatoes and yellow potatoes on-hand.
Two of my daughters, who live close-in to their towns, let their fridges run to empty before re-stocking. This drives me insane, but they’re big kids, so who am I to tell them they’re crazy?
I raised 5 kids. I discovered, quite early on in the game, that my best-laid plans to have an agenda (for example, actually making it to the store on a given Wednesday, for instance), were more often than not sabotaged by Life. Got one of your kid’s birthday party coming up on Saturday? One of the kids will get the flu. Or chicken pox. Or strep. Then, having been told that sharing is important, they will give it to their siblings. Come Saturday, you could be stuck, without a cake, without presents, without anything but the painful discovery that, as a parent, you suck. (This was way before online shopping, but the point is the same.)
Truth is, I have always been hyper-organized and I never had that problem. But I always, always, kept it in the back of my mind. Life will get in your way, every time. Be prepared and you won’t find yourself in a crazy panic. Ever. Well, ok, only sometimes.
The same thing applies to my “medicine cabinet.” I’ve already gone into that in a prior post. My obsession with having every over-the-counter med I could possibly need for the bugs that kids can (and do) get was based on raising 5 kids without losing my mind. My then-husband was out of town every other week. There wasn’t anyone to “run to the store” if I had a sick child or two. Nope, just me.
There was no way I would stand by helplessly, while my poor little daughter or son was coughing his or her lungs out, without having something available to make them more comfortable.
I made it a point to always have a well-stocked medicine cabinet.
What originated in wanting to prepare for the inevitable childhood illnesses turned into a compulsion to prepare for being trapped up here in the coastal range, without a way to get down the hill. I’ve talked about this ordeal in a previous post. Click here if you’d like to read about the Week from Hell that made me a convert. I mean, who doesn’t want to hear about someone’s Week from Hell?
Maybe it’s not really the time, right before Thanksgiving, to be thinking about this issue. But do give it some thought when you’ve recovered from the Holidays. Ultimately, keeping a well-stocked pantry will save you a lifetime of headaches and a nagging sense of not being prepared, in case you can’t get to the store.
Ok, enough of that. Sorry.
Tonight’s dinner is about as quick and easy and yummy as you can hope for. It might even give you enough time to make a side dish for Thursday, at the same time.
Heat the oven to 375°. Scrub some russet potatoes. You can always make mashed potatoes, but that will take a bit more effort and you’re better off using yellow potatoes for that. Pierce the russets, cut off their ends, and put in your hot oven for an hour to an hour and a half, depending on their size.
Chicken tenders, defrosted and tendons removed
Flour, salt and pepper
Mushrooms, wiped clean with damp paper towel and sliced
¼ tsp thyme
1 tsp. minced garlic, from a jar or fresh (I’m guessing jarred, tonight)
3/4 c. Marsala wine
½ c. Half and Half
Sliced green onions
Take 5 to 10 chicken tenders out of the freezer, place in a pie plate, and defrost for about 6-7 minutes, uncovered.
Take some sharp kitchen scissors or knife, and cut out those tendons. They will not add to the tastiness of this dish. But that’s your call.
Now, you can throw a salad together, if that’s your plan. Or a bit later on, you can nuke some frozen peas or corn. I’m not the veggie police, here. A potato is still a veggie, right?? I know you’re tired.
25 minutes before your potatoes are due to come out, when your chicken is fully defrosted, grab a bunch of paper towels and really dry it off well.
Heat a large skillet (I love cast iron) to medium high. Add 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and 1 Tablespoon butter to the skillet (just enough to cover the bottom – not too much), add sliced mushrooms and ¼ tsp. thyme. When the mushrooms have browned nicely, toss in 1 teaspoon of minced garlic and cook for about 10 seconds. Then remove the whole shooting match to a pie plate.
Cook off any water that the mushrooms may have exuded. Add just enough olive oil and butter to cover the bottom of the skillet.
Lightly salt and pepper your chicken tenders, then lightly dust with flour. Shake off the excess.
When the olive oil is hot (still on medium high), cook floured chicken tenders. Allow enough room between your tenders; don’t overcrowd your pan. You may need to do 2 batches and that’s ok.
When your tenders are golden brown underneath, carefully flip and cook until the other side is golden brown and the tender feels firm to the touch, when you press down with your spatula. If you don’t relish the idea of being splattered by hot olive oil, you may want to use a pair of tongs to turn the chicken.
Remove to the same pie plate as your mushrooms.
To brown bits in the pan, add 3/4 cup Marsala wine. You may want to turn up the temperature a notch; let it bubble and reduce. When it is reduced to about 1/2 cup Marsala in the pan, add ½ cup half and half. Cook until thickened. When it is the thickness you like, add the cooked chicken and mushrooms back into the pan, just to warm through.
Now, throw in your sliced green onions. I have tried making this without the green onions, but they really add a nice flavor. So, I’d give this a try. Unless you hate green onions, that is.
By now, your potatoes should be nice and soft on the inside, and ready to serve.
Time to pat yourself, once again, on the back. You didn’t resort to Frozen Pizza. Way to go.