Are you looking to wow your friends and family with a decadent yet easy meal for the holidays? Something that can be prepared ahead of time so that you aren’t scrambling around at the last minute while your guests are ringing the doorbell? Normally I don’t like to cook something as mundane as chicken for a special event, however, Chicken Marsala with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Haricots Verts (aka green beans) will impress even your most finicky visitor. You can even clean up your entire kitchen while the meal is on the Warm setting in your oven!
14 ounces of reduced sodium chicken broth
¼ cup chopped shallot
About 1 stick of unsalted butter
10 ounces of regular or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
One packet of fresh sage, chopped
1 cup flour
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup sweet marsala wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Cook shallot in 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat until it begins to look translucent, approximately 1 – 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, sage, and salt & pepper to taste. Cook until mushrooms begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Add flour to a wide, shallow bowl. Place the chicken between 2 sheets of waxed paper and pound with a meat mallet until they are about ¼ inch thick. Or cheat like I do and buy the Perdue Thinly Sliced Chicken Breasts at BJ’s Wholesale Club. Season with a little salt & pepper then dredge in flour and fry in 2 tablespoons of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil. If the butter cooks too quickly and the pan gets a little smoky, add a couple tablespoons of broth. Cook until golden on each side and just cooked through, approximately 3 minutes per side depending on how thin the breasts are. Add new butter and oil to the pan each time you begin cooking a new batch. Transfer cooked chicken to an oven proof platter covered in foil. When all of the chicken has been cooked, add the wine to the skillet, scraping the pan drippings into the wine. Once it comes to a boil, add the broth, cream, scallions and mushrooms and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add lemon juice, a heavy splash of wine and a few pinches of sage. Pour the sauce over the chicken and put the whole dish into a 200 degree oven to keep it warm. You can do this a couple of hours in advance of your shindig.
Many recipes for Chicken Marsala call for a dry marsala, but I typically use the sweet variety. A hint that I received from Mike at Friendship Liquors – most marsala wines will spoil quickly after being opened. So if this is a recipe that you only make once a year, just throw out the wine when you are finished cooking. There is no harm in having extra sauce because it tastes great on the potatoes. So double the sauce portion of the recipe if you wish.
Meanwhile, peel 5 pounds of potatoes, preferably Yukon Gold. Cut into chunks, about 6 chunks per potato. Add to a large pot of cold water and some salt and boil until potatoes are tender. Dump into a colander to remove the water and then move the potatoes to a large mixing bowl. Add salt, pepper, one stick of unsalted butter and milk or cream while beating with an electric mixer. Add the milk or cream slowly until the potatoes are the consistency that you prefer (a little wetter than normal is ok since they will continue to cook a little during the next step). I also use about a half container of sour cream for additional flavor. Place the mixture into a crockpot and turn to the Warm setting for up to 3 hours. Stir every hour to make sure that it is not sticking to the crockpot. Add a few splashes of milk and stir if the potatoes appear to be getting too dry. If you like garlic, you can mince some fresh garlic and add it to the potatoes, or take an entire bunch of cloves and roast them for 15 minutes on 375 degrees. Cut the ends of the cloves off before roasting so that you can scrape the garlic out easily once it comes out of the oven.
Now for the haricot verts which simply means “green beans” in French. Buy the thin style of beans that are packaged in a plastic bag in the produce section. One bag will serve about 8 people. Boil until slightly tender. Season with salt, pepper and butter and then place in the oven with the chicken. You can add thinly sliced almonds to the top if you want to liven up this dish. I recommend preparing the beans no more than one hour before your guests are due to arrive.
Voila, a meal fit for a king! And to make the evening extra special, serve Champagne Cocktails, a classic drink that never goes out of style. They pair well with the dessert course or even the appetizers. My version of the recipe goes something like this. Soak a sugar cube in a few splashes of Angostura Bitters which can be found in any liquor store or even most grocery stores. Per their website, Angostura Bitters is a unique and secret blend of herbs and spices which is used to flavor many types of food and drinks. Drop the cube into the bottom of your champagne flute and add a semi-dry champagne or prosecco. I used Lunetta by Cavite which is around $10 per bottle. Add a splash of Triple Sec to sweeten it up a smidgen. That’s it! If you want to make your cocktail extra pretty, add 1 or 2 raspberries or a thin piece of orange or lemon peel. If you don’t own champagne flutes, it is worth splurging on some. Marshalls and TJ Maxx were selling a set of 4 for $6.99 the last time I checked. Your party guests will think you won the lottery!
Have a Happy and Healthy New Year everyone!