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To Slow Cook or Not to Slow Cook…

21 Feb

Well, it’s not really the questions here, I guess. Slow cooking is a great option for dinners when you know you won’t have time to cook for dinner or you’re just to tired at night to start cooking after you get home. You can set it up in the morning before you leave, let it run on low all day, and dinner is ready for you when you get home. I have lots of slow cooker recipes and we do use the slow cooker, though not as much since I am home more to cook meals, but it is still a great option. When I saw the recipe for Chicken Marsala in the slow cooker, I thought it would be great to try it out. You still need to do some of the prep work on the stove top, but then you can put it all in the slow cooker and let it go.

Chicken Marsala

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, each about 6 ounces

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 shallots, minced

1/4 pound pancetta, diced (if you don’t have pancetta, you can use bacon)

2 1/4 cups Marsala

1 cup chicken broth

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1/2 pound cremini or button mushrooms, brushed clean, stems removed and caps sliced thin

4 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

On a plate, stir together the flour, salt and pepper. One at a time, turn the chicken breasts in the flour mixture, gently shaking off the excess.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Working in batches if necessary, add the chicken breasts and cook, turning once, until golden on both sides, about 5 minutes total. Transfer to a plate. Add the shallots and pancetta to the pan and saute over medium-high heat until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 2 cups of the Marsala, increase the heat to high and cook, stirring, until the wine is reduced and thickened, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the broth and oregano and return to a boil.

Transfer the chicken to a slow cooker and add the Marsala mixture. Cover and cook until the chicken is opaque throughout and very tender, about 2 1/2 hours on high or 5 hours on low. About 30 minutes before the chicken is done, in a large skillet over high heat, melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the mushrooms and saute until the edges begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the mushroom mixture and the remaining 1/4 cup of Marsala to the slow cooker. Cover and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes more.

Remove from the heat and add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter to the sauce, 1 tablespoon at a time, slowly whisking each into the sauce to blend. Spoon the mushrooms and the sauce over the chicken, garnish with the chives and serve.

It’s a very good recipe for the slow cooker, but if you prefer not to use a slow cooker for Chicken Marsala, here is a recipe that I use for the stove top that is a winner:

Chicken Marsala (Stove Top only)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed

Salt and pepper

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 ounces pancetta, chopped fine (or bacon)

8 ounces button mushrooms, brushed, stems removed, sliced thin

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1 1/2 cups Marsala

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons butter, cut into 3 pieces and chilled

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 200 degrees. Spread the flour in a shallow dish. pat dry the chicken with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Dredge through the flour to coat and shake off any excess.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add the chicken and cook until light golden brown on both sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and keep warm in the oven.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet and return to medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the pancetta and mushrooms. Cook until the pancetta is crisp and the mushrooms are brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste. Cook until the tomato paste begins to brown, about 1 minute. Stir in the Marsala, scraping up any browned bits, and simmer until reduced and slightly syrupy, about 8 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and any accumulated chicken juice. Turn the heat to low and whisk in the butter, one piece at a time. Off the heat, stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the sauce over the chicken before serving.

Chicken Marsala is one of our favorite recipes, whether it is in the slow cooker or on the stove top, and it goes really well with rice, noodles, pasta, or even risotto. We had rice with ours tonight and we all loved it.

Tomorrow will be our meat-free meal of the week and I am making Black Bean Stew. There’s not a lot in the recipe, although it does use some lager beer and butternut squash, so it promises to be pretty tasty. if you have any questions or comments about the Chicken Marsala or any other recipe, feel free to leave a message and I’ll be happy to comment. Until tomorrow, enjoy your evening and your meal!

 

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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Cooking, Dinner, Equipment, Poultry, Slow Cooker Meals

 

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