I love my followers! Every once in a while, they give me direct inspiration for dishes that they want to see on the blog- and they toss me the occasional curve ball! Example: I just got a request for stuffed chicken Marsala. Sounds exciting to me! This is going to involve copious amounts of mushrooms, of course, in the true spirit of the dish…
First and foremost, you must have Marsala wine. NOT that bisulfate-laden swill they call cooking wine in the grocery store. I mean something you would actually consume yourself and/or feed to others. Without displaying the brand – take your butt to Total Wine and grab something like this:
And ensure that you have balsamic reduction, to counteract the sweetness. After all, you’re going to reduce an entire bottle of vino, and you don’t want all sweetness:
So when you start the reduction, along with the roughly chopped onions and mushrooms, it will start out looking like this:
We’ll come back to that.
Now, as far as the chicken to stuff, I chose to use the breasts and thighs, if for no other reason than their superior surface area and general tenderness. The catch: I removed the thigh bone, and left the rib bones in the breast. Why one and not the other, you ask? Well, if you leave the bone in the breast, it will improve the moisture, and it also keeps you from over-processing the meat. Removing the bone from the thigh enables you to roll the stuffing, also to preserve moisture. As shown:
As you can see, the breast is close to still being whole, so that all moisture will be kept inside the meat and the skin will keep the stuffing from spilling. You can use toothpicks or twine to bind- I just chose not to.
And the thighs, with bones removed, roll around the stuffing quite neatly.
Speaking of stuffing…simple. In your food processor, pulse walnuts, spinach, and Asiago cheese. This stuffing will not interfere with the sweet tang of the Marsala. Promise!
You don’t even need to add oil to this, as the walnuts provide enough. And their muted nuttiness balances the Marsala for the chicken.
After the sauce finishes reducing and thickening (after about 45 minutes on high heat) it should look something like this:
Notice how the mushrooms have soaked in the flavor, even as they shrink during the cooking process. They will be juicy with Marsala in each bite.
While I waited for the sauce to reduce, I browned the chicken, skin side first, in a cast-iron skillet and then sent to the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius). As you can see, the breasts opened some, but the stuffing didn’t move:
As it sits gently in the Marsala bath atop Mount Mushrooms:
And, a close-up of a stuffed thigh: