Tuesday, September 27, 2011

5 Star Makeover: Chicken Marsala Gratin

This months theme is cooking with wine.  I love using spirits be it, wine, hard liquor, or beer, in the kitchen.  I was very excited with this challenge.

Chicken Marsala was a childhood favorite of mine.  In our house both my brother and I looked forward to mom making this dish.


I decided to make my mother's version of Chicken Marsala, just presented a different way.  This dish is basically a CM that is served like a French onion soup.  Sounds strange but it was good.

The most important ingredient in a CM is the Marsala wine.  Use a shitty wine, you get a shitty finished product.  I used a fantastic one from Sicily, Curatolo Arini Marsala Superior Riserva.

What made this course for me was the melted cheese topping.  I adore ooey, gooey, browned melted cheese.  Here I combined...

  • Hickory smoked Gouda - Adds a smokey hint that otherwise this dish doesn't have.
  • Parmigiano Reggiano - The undisputed king of cheeses.
A word on cheese.  Please do not buy pre-grated or pre-shredded cheese.  Invest in a good box grater and do it fresh yourself.  Makes a world of difference.


Crusty French Bread

Chicken Marsala, Fresh Thyme & Chopped Chives

Hickory Smoked Gouda & Parmigiano Reggiano

Fresh Out the Oven

For the Chicken Marsala
  • 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 1 tbs grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1/2 tbs dried oregano
  • 2 - 8 oz chicken breasts - lightly pounded to an even thickness
  • 2 tbs safflower oil
  • unsalted butter
  • 6 oz shiitake mushroom - sliced
  • 1 cup Curatolo Arini Marsala wine
  • 1 cup homemade chicken stock
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper
  1. In a bowl combine the flour, parmigiano, and dried oregano.
  2. Dredge the chicken breast in the flour mix.
  3. In a saute pan, heat the safflower oil over medium heat.  Once the oil starts to shimmer, add 2 tbs butter.  Once the butter melts and foams, add the chicken.
  4. Cook the chicken breasts until golden brown.  Max 4 minutes per side.
  5. Remove to a wire rack to rest.
  6. Add another few drops of fresh safflower oil to the pan.
  7. Cook the mushroom until well browned.
  8. Season with sea salt and black pepper.
  9. Add 1 tbs butter and 1 tbs of the prepared flour from the chicken.  Make a quick blond roux.
  10. Deglaze with the marsala wine, scraping up all browned bits.  Reduce by half.
  11. Add the chicken stock.  Simmer for 10 minutes to reduce and thicken sauce.
  12. Cut the chicken breasts into 1 inch cubes.
  13. Return the chicken to the pan.
  14. Check for seasoning.
  15. Take off the heat.
To Finish the Dish
  • crusty French bread
  • chopped chives
  • fresh thyme
  • grated hickory smoked gouda
  • grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  1. Preheat the oven to 500 F.
  2. Cut the French bread into 1 inch thick slices.  The slices should fit inside an ovenproof ramekin.
  3. Add 1 slice bread to a ramekin.
  4. Add the Chicken Marsala.
  5. Add chopped chives and fresh thyme.
  6. Cover with a generous handful of grated hickory smoked Gouda cheese.
  7. Sprinkle the top with grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
  8. Bake until the topping is melted and slightly browned.  BROWN IS GOOD, BLACK IS FUCKED!
That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!


  1. Oh wow! I knew you'd come up with something amazing, and you didn't disappoint! Love the idea of a gratin, but almost like a French onion soup... looks incredibly tasty!

  2. Wow. That final photo takes the prize. And who doesn't adore gooey melted cheese?!
    Definitely something I would be thrilled to try! Fantastico indeed!

    Have a great week,

  3. OMG, I am in heaven. Have I ever told you how much I love things in those little ramekins? SOmething about it being ALL MINE appeals to the sybarite/glutton in me. Then of course 2 of my favorite flavors –– smoke and marsala. I put marsala in my meat sauce always.

    Fabulous use of wine, Laz. And a perfect dish for pampering meal for oneself.

    PS, Kudos about wine quality. Especially with things like marsala and vermouth. I think people too often go 'eh' and buy the cheap stuff. I look forward to trying your suggestion (my friends at 12 Bottle Bar just recommended a fab vermouth I can't wait to try!).

  4. A lifelong fave of mine- I have never been able to replicate my Nonna's, though I daresay even she would swoon over this version. Fabulous Lazaro. Perfetto
    xoxo Pattie

  5. ooh...that ramekin is too small for such deliciousness!

  6. Oh wow! What a fantastic approach to Chicken Marsala...and the smoked Gouda addition is just over the top! Fantastic recipe for the theme :)

  7. YUM! I def agree on the pre-grated cheese. There's nothing better than freshly grated Parmigiano!!
    Your mum would def be proud of this one

  8. My favourite dish with wine is Coq au VIn;)
    Never use cheap wine.
    This recepie looks delish:)

  9. I think I just heard my stomach growl. Words escape me!! You chose the perfect dish to be presented this way, as a gratin. Chicken Marsala is so flavorful and creamy that I can completely envision it being even better in a gratin than not. This is so perfect, Laz!

    And can I just say, that I completely agree with you cheese choices (and yes, definitely no pre-shredded/grated cheese please). Amazing job!

  10. I've never had Chicken Marsala Gratin before. This sounds fantastic and hearty. I'm a big fan of ooey gooey melted cheese too so I think I'd really enjoy this dish. Liking the use of shitake mushrooms in this dish too. Another great recipe, Laz!

  11. Wow. Chicken Marsala gooey cheese? That rocks. Love the marsala in there - great idea. Agree totally about the standard of wine - I make it a point to always test a good glass of it first! :-)

  12. What a great take on classic chicken marsala. Individual servings always make you feel special :) Fabulous choice of cheese and, absolutely agree with the quality of the wine - for me it's usually the same wine I'm sipping while making the dish, so have two bottles on hand !

  13. It does look like onion soup! The difference is chicken masala and the love from your mother, Laz! This is a sweet post. Your mom will be happy to see this. My mom is always happy to know that I miss her food and share to others and they like it.

  14. I am SO with you - things with bubbly cheese on top are my food Achilles heel. Where some people can't stop eating chocolate, I literally cannot stop when it comes to a dish like this. And I agree with Deana - things in ramekins where you get to eat it ALL rule. I am ashamed to say I have never made chicken marsala, but this is definitely an inspiration. Great dish!!

  15. This looks delicious! I would love to join your 5 star foodie makeovers...how does one do that? Theresa

  16. French onion soup-like chicken Marsala buried under a ton of great-flavored cheese? Umm...YES, please! Although I'd bake this in a much, much bigger dish because I really think I could eat 3 of these small ramekins all by myself ;-). Really enjoyed joining in the challenge this month, Laz. Thanks for leading me astray!

  17. I love your recreation of Chicken Marsala layered in a ramekin and piled with a blend of some of my favorite cheeses. Ooh, I can taste each and every layer of this dish surrounded by the flavor of Marsala. YUM!

  18. Brilliant Laz!
    You hit the jackpot on that presentation.
    Love this month's theme!

  19. Anything with ooey, gooey, browned melted cheese gets my vote and then some - gorgeous Laz!

  20. fantastic in every way! oozing goodness makes me happy. like, very happy. and mushrooms!? i'll take every day of the week. love that your mom had her own recipe for this. don't know of 3 cubans that do!

  21. I am in happy awe contemplating what to do... what to do. The Chicken Marsala make-over with that cheese just beckons. But anything with wine reduction gets my vote. It's sauce for every occasion. Gorgeous array everyone!

  22. That dish is filled with flavorful delights and tastes...then you dribbles so much cheese....oh yes! looks amazing.

  23. Now, who wouldn't want to sit down to that?

  24. that ramekin is too small for such deliciousness!


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