I have always omitted the mushrooms until now. Let's take a step back with a confession: I am intimidated by certain foods, so much to the point that "Intimidated by Food" could be my Native American name. If I've never worked with it before, I'm afraid. I don't know why! It's usually types/cuts of meat or vegetables that cause the biggest fear. I'm trying to be better about it and force myself to expand my horizons. Case in point: mushrooms. I don't really like the texture of mushrooms, but in chicken marsala I don't mind them as much. However, given my inexperience working with them, I always made this dish sans mushrooms. My sister LOVES mushrooms, so I thought this would be a good time to try working with them. As she was my appointed 'sous chef' for this meal, I had her clean, slice, and saute them, but I now have the confidence to work with them on my own - thanks, Lisa! With or without the mushrooms, this dish is fantastic and I highly recommend it!
Chicken with Dijon Mascarpone Marsala Sauce
Serves 4-6 (I served 6)
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, each breast cut crosswise into 3 pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil
5 Tablespoons butter, divided
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
1 cup dry Marsala wine
1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves, plus whole sprigs, for garnish (I omit this)
12 ounces dried fettuccine (I used 8 ounces - 1 package - for 6 people)
Parmesan cheese, if desired
1. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. (I cut my chicken breasts into strips and season with S&P at this point then leave them alone for the rest of the recipe simply because I prefer smaller pieces of chicken). Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add the chicken and cook just until brown, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cool slightly.
2. While the chicken cools, melt 2 Tablespoons of butter to the same skillet over medium-high heat, then add the onion and saute until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and saute until the mushrooms are tender and the juices evaporate, about 12 minutes. (When I omit the mushrooms, I let the garlic cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute in only 1 Tablespoon of butter, then proceeded to the next step.)
3. Add the wine and simmer until it is reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Stir in the mascarpone and mustard. Cut the chicken breasts crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices (or leave alone if already in strips). Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through and the sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chopped parsley (if using). Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper.
4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fettuccine and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain. Toss the fettuccine with 3 Tablespoons of butter* and season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Swirl the fettuccine onto serving plate. Spoon the chicken mixture over top. Garnish with parsley sprigs and parmesan cheese, if desired, and serve.
*I typically don't use the 3 T. butter with the fettuccine. I just keep it plain and serve it underneath the chicken and sauce. There is plenty of flavor and creaminess in the sauce (from the oil, butter, and mascarpone cheese), that the extra butter is not necessary in my opinion. However, when I made the dish this last time, I did use the butter because the pasta was sticking to itself and because I was serving it to guests so a little extra butter can't hurt (says Paula Deen at least!)
Source: Adapted from Food Network courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis