Saturday, August 14, 2010

Brown is beautiful: easy chicken marsala

Some of my favorite things to eat and cook are not photogenic at all. For example, anything that is brown--a stew, a roast--is likely to appear a little less than appetizing in a photo.

A better photographer could make these things look delicious. But pictures have always been secondary to this blog. And my method for taking pictures is admittedly poor. Often I'm working with hot food which means there's a steam issue. Sometimes I'm contending with glare. I'm always racing against a grumbling stomach and an impatient husband if it's dinner time.  By far, my best photos are of baked things that have long since cooled and I can take my time with.

This is all to say, this photo isn't great--it's too brown and shiny--but I still think it's beautiful because it tasted so delicious. It's Giada's chicken marsala with mustard and mascarpone.

Chicken and mushrooms in a brown sauce isn't exactly a knockout, but it's a winner in the taste department, which is all that really matters. Anything with marsala is luxurious. Add mascarpone and you've got a recipe that's cozy for two, but elegant enough for company.

I've made this a couple of times before, and while I recommend it, I do have a few edits. For one, I only add one tablespoon of mustard. Two, I brown the chicken pieces whole, since that's the way the recipe is printed in the cookbook. They usually take about 16-18 minutes. Three, I do not slice the chicken before returning it to the sauce.  And four, while I have made it with the full amount of mascarpone, I think it would be equally good  and perfectly creamy with less. I bet half would be just fine.

We enjoyed this lovely dish this the other night and looked forward to eating the leftovers for lunch the next day. But something distressing happened: somehow, we forgot to put the chicken in the fridge and it sat out overnight! The husband woke up and discovered it while he was putting on the coffee the next morning.

This may have been the one time I've been glad to live in a cold place. Our flat is usually around 60 degrees overnight, and while this isn't exactly the recommended food storage temperature, I decided the chicken had probably survived. I decided this mostly because I wanted to eat it again. Plus, I'm fortunate to have a nearly iron stomach. The husband was understandably dubious of my feeble assurances of, "It's probably fine," but he too had had dreams of chicken marsala lunch.

In the end, we ate the chicken, and lived to tell you about it. Literally.


  1. I totally hear ya on the photography thing. Nothing worse than a fogged-up lens, juice running on the plate, or hot vegetables wilting right before your eyes. Although, I do think your photo is great, because I totally want to eat that chicken marsala right now, which has always been a favorite dish of mine. It looks beautifully rich, creamy and delicious!

  2. I agree that I tend to get the best pics of baked goods because of those very same reasons. Definitely prettier to look at a sweet than a hearty dinner. Though I do think this looks great.

  3. mustard is so precious to me--it seems like i add it in some form to almost everything i make. the food looks and sounds great to me--definitely worthy of a repeat or 12. :)

  4. You've listed most of the reasons I don't take pics of, or write much about savoury food on my blog :) But I think your photo here is pretty good because it made my mouth water! And I know the anguish of accidentally leaving food out overnight - usually it's stuff that was left in the oven to keep warm in case we wanted seconds. Glad you got to eat it anyway (I'd probably have done the same!)

  5. Couple of days too late: I just used up some leftover mascarpone! Well, next time I know what to do with it. I think your pic looks delicious!! - Pete
    (P.S. I would've eaten those left-out-overnight leftovers, too.)

  6. Hey, I'm not that impatient. And if I am, you just tell me to start without you, which I respect.

    Huz of HD

  7. Oh man, this is Tasty Nirvana. Brown is beautiful and bring on the mushrooms! I want our heatwave (90+ degrees, can u believe it?!) to literally chill so I can get back to cooking on the stove again. I want make this, as it's one of my comfort favorites!

  8. Connie: Thank you! I suppose the best compliment you can get about your food photos is that they made someone hungry!

    oneordinaryday: yep, I am always lured quickest by the sweets photos.

    sophie: Yes--it's great for cool weather!

    grace: if you make this, add the second tablespoon of mustard--it would probably make it just tangy enough for you!

    shaz: I was waiting for someone to say they would have eaten it too! ;)

    Pete: see above :)

    huz: I didn't know you read this thing! xoxo

    wasabi: Wow, it's hot up there! Send some of it down!

  9. Hah! Another great tale of gustatory bravery - we've done the same many times... and always lived to tell the tale. Those noodles sound delicious, is the recipe posted anywhere?

  10. So so so true. I cook a lot of curries, and while they may be delicious, they are so hard to take a nice picture of. Thats why I do mainly sweets. Furthermore, I hate taking pictures and I refuse to eat cold dinners.
    Your chicken marsala looks delicious.
    *kisses* HH

  11. I love chicken, mushrooms and marsala. I think they're a great classic combo. I'm dubious about using marscapone because of my cholesterol. I'm going to try it without it. Although, it sounds like it was sooo good that you'd even risk your health for any leftovers! :P

  12. foodhoe: the recipe for the chicken is included in the link at the end of the post ("literally")--the noodles are simply fettucine tossed in butter and parsley.

    HH: Yes, curry is delicious but not too purdy.

    Ben: I think it would be good without the mascarpone--not as creamy of course but still with the same great flavor. You could always just stir in a little bit and get a similar effect.

  13. Yum. Will have to make this, given that the mostly-vegetarian boyfriend is away this week. I have been eating nearly all zucchini-based meals in an effort to use up some huge garden zuccs and could definitely use a change! Oh - and even though I most certainly do *not* have an iron stomach, I would eat those leftovers.

  14. Heck, who cares about the photo in this case. When it's chicken marsala, I can't and I won't resist, no matter what. ;)

  15. My husband used to make chicken marsala back in college, before he was my husband, when he was trying to impress me. Obviously, it worked. He used the recipe out of an old version of Joy of Cooking, but I think if he'd found a recipe with mascarpone in it, he definitely would have made it happen.

    Strangely enough, I think living in France has given me a certain kind of iron stomach, but with a huge weakness: Now I feel ill when I return to the US and eat pre-made food. It hasn't been so bad this time - I've been making an effort to get plenty of vegetables - but last year I felt bad for almost a week!

    That said, I would totally have eaten those leftovers, too! :)

  16. Ash: Let me know if you try the recipe while E's gone. And, looking forward to seeing you Saturday!

    CJ: I agree.

    camille: Wow, a college boy making chicken marsala-no wonder you married him! And as for your comment about American food v. French--that bums me out--and also makes me want to move to France!!

  17. The problem is probably a lot more to do with my food choices (Mexican 3 times in one day, cheeseburgers, nachos, etc.), to be honest. :)