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Chicken Picatta and Chicken Marsala

Chicken Marsala

Chicken Picatta and Chicken Marsala

2 Birds with one stone (fry pan)

Not entirely, but both recipes start out the same so I’d thought I’d give you the ‘ol 2 for 1.  Marsala is sweet and uses onions and sweet wine whereas Picatta is lemony and uses dry wine and capers.  Marsala favors a red wine as a pairing where Picatta invites a white.  So, lemon or sweet, white mushrooms or brown, red wine or white, let’s get in the kitchen.  It’s going to get a little messy but isn’t cleaning up half the fun?  Okay it’s not but whenever I dredge something in flour I make a mess.  Since both recipes start out the same, I’ll take us to the fork in the road, then, you decide which fork you want to take for the finished dishOr, if you’re really brave, make them both on the same night.  What’s a mess between friends?Chicken Picatta

Chicken Picatta and Marsala

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 Tablespoons EVOO
  • ¾ cup unbleached white flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 ½ cup of chicken stock
  • 3 Tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped


  • ¾ lb. sliced white mushrooms
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 Tablespoons of drained nonpareil capers.
  • 6 cloves fresh minced garlic


  • ¾ lb. sliced brown mushrooms
  • I large onion, minced
  • 3 cloves fresh minced garlic
  • 1 cup Marsala wine
  • 1 Tablespoon veal demiglace

Rinse and clean the chicken breasts of any connective tissue where the wing was connected.  Pound the chicken breasts to even thickness, about ¾ of an inch. Put the chicken breasts, 2 at a time in a large zip lock bag.  Then on a cutting board and with a rolling pin, pound them to the desired thickness.  Then place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan, separating with a piece of wax or parchment paper.  Heat a heavy skillet (that has a lid) on medium high.  Add 2 Tablespoons of the EVOO and 2 Tablespoons of the butter.  Put the flour, salt and pepper in a bowl or pan for dredging.  Dredge 2 chicken breasts coating both sides well.  Place both breasts in the fry pan and brown on each side, adding a new dredged breast to the pan as you remove one breast.  Set aside.  Add more butter and EVOO as needed.  Make sure the pan always has a breast cooking or the pan will get too hot and burn the flour.  When the last breast is removed turn the heat to medium and add the crushed garlic.  Stir for 15 to 30 seconds and add the onions (for the Marsala) or the mushrooms (for the Picatta).  For the (Marsala) after cooking the onions for 3-5 minutes, add the mushrooms.  When the mushrooms have released their liquid turn the heat to medium low/low and add half the wine, ½ the chicken stock, ½ the lemon juice, and the capers (for the Picatta) and ½ the chicken stock, ½ the Marsala wine , and the demiglace (for the Marsala).  Stir and let the sauce start to thicken.  Adjust for taste (the Picatta) sauce with more lemon juice, wine and chicken stock.  Adjust for taste (the Marsala) sauce with more wine and chicken stock as it thickens and becomes sweeter.  Once you are happy with the flavor and consistency of the sauces (this step usually takes from 10-20 minutes), add the chicken back into the pan.  Coat the chicken with the sauce turning with tongs.  Cover with the lid and on low heat simmer approximately 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.  Garnish with the parsley, and serve immediately.  I like pasta (you want to soak up the sauce) and a seasonal vegetable like zucchini or green beans for a pretty and flavorful dish.

Chicken Marsala with green beans and pasta

Chicken Marsala with green beans and pasta

Tips:  Try this with pork loin when making the Marsala.  Pound or tenderize the pork and follow the same steps as the chicken.  Pork really works well with sweet flavors.  Try a Pinot Noir with the Marsala.  I lean towards the fruity styles as it complements the sweetness of the Marsala.  I like an Italian white or a lightly oaked Chardonnay with the Picatta.  The lemon and capers in the Picatta really come forward with one of those choices.  Both of these dishes are very “pretty” food so I like to serve them family style so everybody gets a “visual” of the great food they are about to eat.  Make sure you include a spoon so each piece of chicken gets some sauce.  You’ll be glad you did.Chicken Picatta



Drunken Chicken

DSC06263 Charlie’s domain:  As best as I can remember, Charlie used to make this chicken a couple of times a summer.  He would cut up a whole chicken (or two) and leave the skin on.  Most of the time, Charlie would cook this chicken on a rusty old charcoal grill. One year he broke down and bought a gas model.  Living in Florida at the time, it too was soon rusty.  I don’t think there are many better barbeque smells than this chicken on the grill.  Could be the garlic, but when this chicken is cooking we knew something tasty was coming.  Charlie’s not around to cook this chicken anymore but every time I make this chicken I think of him. I picture him sitting in his folding lawn chair, tongs in one hand, cocktail in the other, chesterfield king masterfully balanced on his lower lip when he spoke.

Pass the tongs:  I make this version with skinless chicken.  Don’t get me wrong, I like chicken skin.  When chicken skin is crispy, crunchy, salty, there is nothing better.  Crispy chicken skin is like potato chips. It’s hard to eat just one (piece).  When grilling skin on chicken, the fat under the skin starts to drip.  This dripping fat catches fire and causes the skin to burn and separate from the meat.  I would spend my time moving the chicken from side to side or taking it off the grill entirely while the flames died down.  The result would be black on the outside, undercooked on the inside chicken.  Boneless, skinless pieces cook more quickly and rarely catch fire.   The thickness is more consistent and when the first piece is done the others aren’t far behind.  I use organic boneless chicken thighs.  I like the size, texture and flavor of thighs. 

The line is cast:  Charlie taught me how to fish.  Or, better stated, Charlie took me fishing.  Our first spin rigs were little level winds (reel type) with black fabric line.  Charlie spent most of our early fishing years untangling or cutting out “bird’s nests”.  Aptly named wads of fishing line created when the spool spins faster than the line exiting the reel.  In this era, very few fish were caught, but we all were having a great time.  This ritual continued until the Zebco reel was invented. Charlie sprang for a couple.  The Zebco reel is a design where the line spool is contained under a shiny metal cylinder/cone virtually eliminating the dreaded “bird’s nest.”  This advancement changed our fishing lives.  We actually caught some fish.  We caught blue gill in the ponds, mackerel off the jetties, even a bass or two. 

The Quality Water:  This is an appropriately named section of the San Juan River in NW New Mexico.  Fly fishing only, highly managed, productive stretch of river. The Quality Water starts at the base of Navajo Dam and flows for miles through high NM desert.  The San Juan River eventually makes its way into Lake Powell, part of the Colorado river system.   The Quality Water stretch holds thousands of trout benefiting from consistent water temperatures and abundant bug life.  When I lived in Durango, CO I had the good fortune of fishing this stretch of water dozens of times.  Charlie had never been fly fishing.  He took us spin and bait fishing so this was all new to him.  It was my turn to return the favor.  Charlie didn’t own waders and had never cast a line.  It didn’t matter because this was Charlie’s day.  He caught a dozen nice trout or so.  He caught a few over 20”’s and one that spooled the Hardy Princess.  He reeled the opposite way a few times and caught one sitting on a rock but all in all, couldn’t have been a better day.  What did we cook for dinner to celebrate?  Drunken Chicken! 


  • 4 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 cup Canola oil
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 15 cloves of peeled garlic
  • Salt and pepper.
  • 1  –  12 oz can of light beer
  • 2 TBSP chopped fresh rosemary (optional)

Drunken chicken 5

In a blender put the oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper.  Blend until mixture is a foamy white.  Slowly add the beer until the whole can is added (if you put it in the beginning it will foam out of the blender.)  Pour the mixture over the chicken thighs and add the chopped rosemary.  Cover and place in the refrigerator.  Marinate for at least 2 hours.  Overnight is okay.  Remove from refrigerator at least an hour before cooking to bring to room temperature.  Grill on medium or medium high about 10 minutes a side or until chicken juices run clear.  Serve hot or cold. I prefer cold side dishes with this chicken such as fresh summer salads, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. 

Tips:  Boneless, skinless chicken breasts can but substituted for chicken thighs.  They tend to be drier so don’t overcook.  As well, lemon juice can be used in place of vinegar but only use ¼ of a cup.  Try extra virgin olive oil instead of canola for a nice twist.