Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Roasted Chicken Marsala.

      Chicken marsala, fresh rosemary tagliatelle pasta, and artichokes are proof that my Italian is showing tonight. All of these things are such a labor of love, and this week, it's incredibly welcomed.
Last week, my older sister Amanda was married! Hooray! Weddings are wonderful, aren't they? Wonderfully happy, wonderfully emotional, and wonderfully draining. I haven't been able to cook a meal throughout the whole experience! I wouldn't trade one thing that happened this wedding weekend, but I am eternally grateful that I can now spend hours in the kitchen again without fear of fitting into my Maid of Honor dress...
     The days prior to the wedding were filled with family and laughter, slaving over the kitchen table carving pumpkins for center pieces and drinking bottle after bottle of wine. Amanda watched in anticipation, my mother went over lists of tasks to complete the morning of, and I along with my fellow bridesmaids got our hands dirty with paint, caramel (for the caramel apple favors), and pumpkin guts. You know, the normal wedding itinerary. 
Now that it's over however, we have pictures to look forward to. I'm sure that my family will sit around our kitchen table again, and look through them together. Always at the kitchen table.

Tonight, we're making chicken marsala. Let's change it up though, we'll roast a whole chicken with ground dried porcini mushrooms, and make a marsala pan sauce with the natural juice that the chicken creates through it's cooking. That sauce on top of that homemade rosemary tagliatelle...OOF. 
Stay focused, Megan. Chicken. I feel that this process of roasting makes for a much more flavorful dish. Hey, did I mention it's 39 degrees outside? If that temperature doesn't mean it's time to roast, I don't know what does. 
Let's get cookin'.

Roasted Chicken Marsala
Serves 4 hungry people

1- 5 1/2 pound chicken
3 shallots, 1 halved and 2 sliced
2 heads garlic
1 cinnamon stick
1 apple, cut in quarters
1 large sprig rosemary
.5 oz dried porcini mushrooms, finely ground
1 stick salted butter
Kosher Salt and Pepper
2 c. chicken stock
10 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms
3/4 c. dry marsala wine
2/3 c. heavy cream
3 tbs all purpose flour 
1/4 tsp dried sage 
1 lemon

Alright, so some of these ingredients may sound odd for a marsala dish. I get it. These things though, like apple and cinnamon, take the pan sauce to a new level of delicious. They don't taste abundantly like themselves, but rather lend a depth. Phew, okay now that I've explained that, preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Rinse your chicken inside and out, place on a roasting rack and pat dry. Let this sit at room temperature while you prepare the compound butter and stuffing. Compound butter?! That's right. So next time you see this on a restaurant menu, you'll know how easy it is to make yourself in any flavor your heart desires. Take the soft butter and dried mushroom powder, and mix them together. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, and slather this under the skin and on top of the bird. As for the stuffing, I learned this trick from Alton Brown's Thanksgiving turkey recipe and I will never skip it again when roasting a whole bird. I just change the ingredients to fit the recipe, and I suggest you do the same! If you try this recipe, you'll totally agree. Gather together the halved shallot, the 2 heads of garlic cut in half, cinnamon stick, and apple pieces. Place them in a microwaveable bowl with 1/4 c of water and cook on high for 1 and 1/2 minutes. This releases so much aroma and gives the ingredients a head start on flavoring the inside of the meat. Let this cool before stuffing inside the cavity with the 1 sprig of rosemary. Any extra water from the stuffing can be placed on the bottom of the roasting pan, along with 1/2 c of the chicken stock. Sprinkle the bird with a little extra salt and pepper and roast for an hour and a half, or until the meat has a temperature of 165 degrees! Keep an eye on the bottom of the pan. If it's getting too dark, add more stock or water. The pan means a lot to us right now, it's what is going to make us the base of our marsala sauce, so if it burns...well... we'll figure something out.
Okay, now you can make your side dishes!! Like this fresh rosemary pasta. That's another post though... sorry.

Great, the chicken is done and you can practically taste it! Probably because you've taken that bit of brown skin off the part of the bird nobody really pays attention to and snacked on it. I got you. So let's move that bird to a carving board and cover it with foil, and take that pan back to the stove top on medium heat. Add in 2 tbs of butter and the sliced shallots. Cook until translucent and throw in the mushrooms. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper, and cook again until browned. Add the sage, stirring about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Now we'll make the roux, or the base for our gravy/sauce. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and cook until the juices have seized and the raw flour has cooked, about 1 minutes. Turn the heat off (because a surprise kitchen flare up isn't welcomed everywhere), and pour in the marsala. Turn the heat back to medium and cook.  Now we can customize! Too much wine flavor? Too thick? Add chicken stock. Not enough? More wine. Hold off on more salt though until the sauce has all it's elements. Now whisk in the heavy cream and the juice of 1/2 the lemon. Taste again! I know, it's torturous tasting this marsala sauce... Salt and pepper can be added now to fit your family's preference.
Now you can smother that roast chicken with the pan sauce and devour! My family ate this in 15 minutes. A new record.

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