Simply Delicious Chicken Madeira (Better than Cheesecake Factory in your own home)

Simply Delicious Chicken Madeira (Better than Cheesecake Factory in your own home)

 

Is it no surprise that Chicken Madeira is one of the top, if not the top, ordered entrée at The Cheesecake Factory. It seriously is so delicious. So flavorful, and so succulent. I love to go out with the girls, or on a date with my husband, but is it me or is the price tag and the hassle getting to be too much that it takes away from the experience? I hate going away from dinner, thinking, man that was good, but was it THAT GOOD when thinking of how much we just dropped for a dinner out, vying for a parking spot, waiting to be seated, and then getting hit with a big check at the end. It got to the point I thought there has to be a way to make it at home…

 

The loveliest part, it really is a SIMPLE recipe with SIMPLE ingredients. Like, almost ridiculously simple. Like, I’ve made it way too many times, more than I’d like to admit, simple. 

The hardest thing about this dish was finding out the Madeira wine is sold in the cooking wine section at the grocery store I went to. You see, I do not drink alcohol, so any recipe that asks for it I am clueless where to find it…in fact overwhelmed if I try on my own. Luckily, I found a helpful employee who didn’t just point, but explained it was with the cooking wines and proceeded to show me. I also learned how to flambé to cook off the alcohol, rather than just wait for it to simmer off. Oh man, that is a blast! I just recommend you either do it with 1/4 c at a time, have nothing above your stove top, or let it simmer a little before you light it. The first time I did it, I had been simmering the wine with the mushroom for a couple minutes, then it occurred to me to try to flambé with my candle lighter, and it was perfect. The second time, I lit the entire amount of wine in the pan on the stove which was under our new convection oven/microwave and gorgeous blue and orange flames spewed up! It was awesome, caught both my husband and myself off guard, and luckily the cover was close by to shield our new appliance! Man that was a rush! We laughed and laughed about it. I don’t recommend that route.

One thing I made sure to do with this recipe is to have plenty of sauce. I LOVE sopping up the sauce with bread or using it as gravy on creamy Yukon Gold potatoes that are either steam cooked, or made into garlic mashed potatoes; however, the garlic mashed potatoes I made are so good I prefer to eat them on their own. The other thing you want to be aware of for this recipe, the relatively quick step of butterflying the chicken, and tenderizing the chicken thin reduces the cooking time on each side, as well as provides a good portion control if you only want to eat half of a chicken breast and it still looks like a big portion. I pound the butterflied chicken to an even thin thickness with two layers of plastic wrap and my meat tenderizer. It is a great way to let off some stress! Haha! If you don’t have a meat tenderizer mallet, use can that have some weight to it and a flat side. Do what you gotta do. The video below shows how I butterfly and tenderize the chicken.

Wouldn’t it be nice if it really cooked this fast! DOn’t forget to check out the flambé. I get a kick out of doing it every time I get to flambé…I even love saying “flambé.” Yes I’m a total nerd, and you totally hear a blip of a conversation between my husband and I while I am cooking. I get a kick out of that too. The lazy, sentimental, humorous side of me didn’t want to edit that out! I hope you get a little smile or chuckle out of it. In the video to the left, I am only cooking half of a recipe due to the size of my pan for the video. 

 

Simply Delicious Chicken Madeira 

Do love Chicken Madeira? Would you love it even more if it was simple to make in the comfort of your own home? What if you spent did not have to spend the time and money to hassle with parking, fight the crowds, and plunk down a heck of a lot more than this meal would cost you to make? Did I mention it was tastier too? You will LOVE this recipe. You can customize it to your specific taste. Maybe you wish you had more asparagus, less mushrooms, no mushrooms, more sauce…it is up to you. You can even make a lighter version skipping the butter and using olive oil, or doing a half-n-half butter and olive oil. I have to say, however, the velvety sauce you and flavor your get from the butter, it is worth it. I love having left overs!

2 boneless chicken breasts, butterflied, and pounded thin

3 T butter (reserve 1 T for the end)

salt & pepper, to taste

1-2 c mushrooms

1 1/2 c Madeira cooking wine

 

1/2 bunch of asparagus

1 1/2 c beef stock (or 1 T Better Than Bouillon and 1 1/2 c water)

3/4 c mozzarella cheese, shredded

2 T corn starch

3/4 c cold water

 

1) Season both sides of the butterflies pounded chicken with salt and pepper to taste.
2) Heat 2 T of butter in a pan on med heat and cook the chicken golden brown, about 3-4 min. on each side. Remove to a plate, and set aside.
3) Sauté the mushrooms in the remaining butter until they are browned and give off their liquid.
4) Add the Madeira wine, bring to a boil and cook off the alcohol for about 4 min. Or flambé the alcohol, 1/4 c at a time in the pan to avoid a huge flame; I also flambé the entire amount after letting it simmer for a minute or 2. To flambé, I recommend using a lighter with a long shaft to keep you from getting burned.
5) Add the beef stock or the Better Than Bouillon mixed in the water, and boil for another 3 min.
6) Add the asparagus to the pan, and cook covered for 5 minutes. This steams the asparagus. 
7) Remove the asparagus to a plate, and stir the corn starch slurry (corn starch mixed in the cold water). Continue stirring until the sauce thickens. 
8) Add the chicken back in the pan, place the asparagus on top, and sprinkle on the mozerella cheese. Cover until the cheese is melted. If you have an oven safe pan, broil the pan until the cheese is golden brown. Serve and enjoy!

 

 

 

Note: I used golden Yukon potatoes that I pierce, cover with water in a microwave safe bowl or large measuring cup, and microwave for 16 minutes while making the Chicken Madeira to serve on the side. They come out steamed to perfection, and so creamy.

Also, if you prefer NOT to use the cooing wine, you can omit it and double the beef broth. However, I do not recommend doing this, because you will loose the flavor, and you cook out all the alcohol. 

 

Chicken Marsala with Silky Smooth Spinach Pasta

Chicken Marsala with Silky Smooth Spinach Pasta

 

I remember the first time ever making this dish, and it was the Valentine’s weekend when my husband and I were first dating, and just became an exclusive couple. This dish is a winner ladies and gentlemen. Not only is this dish so delicious, but it is special for that reason, and because of my dear friend Holly, who I consider closer to me than a sister and has since past at the young age of 4. Holly made a very nice dinner for the two of us after she moved in to a new apartment in Costa Mesa, CA. It was the nicest diner anyone has made for me, and it was a thank you for helping her move, being her friend, and a thank you for all the dinners I had her over for and many other people during the course of our friendship. It was such a lovely night between two dear fiends, at her new espresso dining table set in her her new apartment. Really, it was a celebration of so much she had been through, so much we had been through together as friends to support one another, and to celebrate the future ahead. And it was my first time every having Chicken Marsala…but it was not my last.

 

 

The fresh spinach pasta came into the Chicken Marsala picture when my husband and were dating and talking about making Chicken Marsala. He mentioned that he had pasta attachments he had never used before and he knew I love to make good food. Fortunately I also had a Kitchen Aid so his attachments would work on my stand mixer. Since I had never made pasta before, Valentine’s was coming up, and Chicken Marsala had such a sentimental meaning since my friend Holly made it for me, my wheels started turning. Why not NOT go out and fight the crazy crowds on Valentine’s Day, which is never romantic, spend the evening together at home making pasta for the first time AND I could wow him with my Chicken Marsala AND my Sugar Cookies and heart cupcakes with my special Cooked Frosting! Win win win!!! Creating first memories together, eating good food, and spending it with my sweetheart on Valentine’s Day…need I say more…expect that WOW, we both were knocked off our feet with how good and surprisingly easy the fresh pasta was. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

I have to admit, I cannot imagine making the pasta without my stand mixer and his, now my pasta attachments. It really allows you to work with both hands, and not try to crank while holding fresh pasta dough with only one hand. I am sure this added to the ease and overall satisfying experience making pasta for the first time. Funny thing, I honestly do not recall why we went with SPINACH pasta, but it really was a great choice. Fluke or not, it has to be spinach pasta with our Marsala Chicken from now on. I have ordered since Holly made it for me, and I have made it at home, and frankly I was underwhelmed. I detest going out to eat, getting a dish I know I love, and so regretting the fact I have to pay the jacked up restaurant price for a far less superior meal than I could have made at home. I always feel jipped and images of Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares were there is crap food and he turns the restaurant all around, not not without a string of vehement profanity! I have a little Gordon Ramsey on my shoulder when it comes to food.

I have to say I am getting quite good at making the pasta, and if you are ever feeling intimidated by pasta, please don’t. I hope I can ease your mind and encourage you to give it a go. Also, please don’t overthink it, or worry you will ruin pasta. Frankly, pasta dough is SO forgiving, and much easier IMO than bread dough. You also need to know there are so many different types of pasta recipes out there, many are regional, some Italian, some French, etc. One dogma says the only way you can do pasta is this way…another that way. Goodness me. All I have to say, is hallelujah I did’t worry my pretty little head over this never ending debate before making pasta for the first time. Innocence is bliss…or is it ignorance…or just dumb stupid luck? Either way, I knew my pasta was gonna have Semolina Flour, because dang it, I flipping bought it before looking at recipes because I knew pasta had Semolina, right?! Well, again, that played to my advantage in the end and I did a half and half All Purpose and Semolina Flour pasta for that fateful first time. I believe the recipe came with the attachments…I honestly don’t recall. Oh did I mention that a big part of the pasta debate has to do with egg, no egg, All Purpose Flour, Semolina, or some other type I cannot recall and frankly don’t put any brain space on. In the end, I have only just confirmed my early naive decision to use half and half, all purpose and semolina flour with whole egg and egg yolks. The recipe is simple. I mix it on my counter using a well. I am sure I could use a bowl, but I have visions of old Italia that most likely come from my romantic imagination wishing me off vicariously through the movie Under The Tuscan Sun and making pasta the old school way. Ironically, I have since found out the recipe I use is more French than Italian. Oh well, doesn’t change my Tuscan romanticisms…nor y pasta.

There really has only been a two key changes I have made to my Silky Smooth Fresh Spinach Pasta. 1) I now sauté the spinach in extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and salt to season. I mean, dang it, I want flavor, not some bland pasta if I am gonna put the effort into making it in the first place, and I have made leaps and bounds strides in my confidence adding flavor in my cooking and knowing what will work and what won’t–I’m usually 90% of the time right and what my brain cooks up actually works in the kitchen. 2) I make elegant little pasta nests with the cut pasta rather than monkeying around trying to dry it all nice and draped. Nesting the linguini size pasta has a few benefits beyond not having to dry and drape it (which I only did the first time). You can make more and freeze the little nests in ziplock bags, and boil straight from the freezer. I am ALL about the make once-and-enjoy-multiple-times philosophy. AND the little nests are perfect single servings without going overboard…unless you feel in the glutinous mood which is easy with ridiculously good fresh pasta. One thing you need to understand about fresh pasta that I didn’t know, but frankly didn’t phase me, the first time I made fresh pasta is that you don’t spin the pasta on your fork like you may be accustomed to doing with the traditional dry spaghetti or linguini. So with the nests, I just cut the past and load up my fork rather than twirl in a spoon. A slight adjustment, if any at all, but the older I get the more I realize our expectations make ore break our experience if we are not flexible and ready to shift…which I am able to do more easily and it bring me more joy on the regular. I will definitely have to post about that whole ball of wax another time.

I definitely suggest making the pasta to the nests before any cooking steps for the Chicken Marsala.  During the 30 minute resting of the pasta dough, I will: 1) butterfly and pound the chicken between two layers of plastic wrap (video below left), 2) make sure I have Essence on had, or make up a batch to use (the last recipe below), 3) mix the flour and dredge the chicken (video below right), 4) get the remaining ingredients out ready for the sauce, 5) get a pot of water with salt started on the stove to be ready for when I need to cook the pasta nests, 6) make any side salad, 7) set the table or have other do that bit, and 8) put any dishes in the dish washer or clean up any dishes sitting my hot soapy water I always start when cooking. That last step is a tip my Grandma Joy taught me about; she said you always need a sink full of hot soapy water ready when you start cooking because it makes the clean up easier along the way.  I would add, it also makes cleaning of items I need to reuse along the way.  There can be a step 4.5, which is running to the store because I realize I do not have any Marsala cooking wine on hand. I do not drink alcohol, and do not regularly cook with alcohol, so it is not unusual that when I am making a dish like Marsala Chicken that I think I have some when in fact I do not. Oh, and call to make sure your local grocery store carried Marsala, because not all do. AND ask where the cooking wines are, especially if you do not frequent the wine aisles.  If you are completely against using cooking wine, you can omit the Marsala, and replace the amount with chicken stock, but you definitely want to add chicken bullion otherwise the flavor will be completely missing; I always use Better Than Bullion when I use a bullion–it is so much more flavorful. Don’t forget that the alcohol does cook out while boiling the sauce, but I also understand there are those opposed to even having it in the house for one reason or another. I just love the flavor it adds, and cannot imagine not having the Marsala in my Chicken Marsala. 

Funny little blip in the video if you caught it, you were right. I accidentally sautéed the mushrooms before browning the chicken, quickly took them out, brown the chicken and resumed the steps as indicated in the recipe, but i didn’t edit it out…because I didn’t notice until just now and I am too anxious to post this and spread the love of these recipes to go back and do so. I use the same recipe my friend Holly used to cook us dinner, and she got her recipe from Emeril Lagasse.

Silky Fresh Spinach Pasta

Have you ever tried fresh pasta before? Have you always wanted to? Have yo felt overwhelmed by the idea of making pasta? This is the recipe for you. Fresh pasta just cannot be described, but needs to be experienced. And it is not hard to make like many of the heresy rumors floating around. In less than two hours, you could be sitting down to your very own, freshly made pasta, and have servings of fresh pasta in the freezer ready to cook up and enjoy. Pasta dough is so forgiving, you basically mix, knead, rest the dough before you roll, cut it, and cook it. No need to hang and dry it. This recipe makes 8 individual nests of pasta–one per serving. 

Spinach Puree:

about 8 oz of fresh spinach (I half of a big 16 oz container)

1 tsp-1 T garlic, to taste

olive oil to coat a skillet (about 1-2tsp)

1 tsp salt

 

Remaining pasta dough ingredients:

1 1/4 c all purpose flour

1 1/4 c semolina flour

2 large eggs

4 egg yolks

1 tsp salt

1) On med heat, sauté the spinach, garlic, and salt in a pan dirzzled with olive oil. Stir until it is still bright green and about a third of the original spinach volume. 

2) Transfer to a blender (still hot has not been an issue for me). Blend until it is a silky smooth puree. It should yield about 3/4 cup of spinach puree. Set aside for the pasta dough.

3) Make a well with the flours and salt on the counter (I am sure you may use a bowl and no Italian grandmas will die). I drop the eggs, egg yolks, and spinach puree in the center and mix with my hands, adding flour (mostly semolina) as needed if the the dough is too wet. 

4) Once the dough comes together in a ball, knead the dough until it is smooth and elasticity, and almost feels like play dough. 

5) Separate the dough into two balls, cover with plastic wrap, and let the dough rest for 30 min. This is when I make the sauce that will accompany my fresh pasta. 

 

NOTE: If you do not want to make spinach pasta, omit the spinach puree, and omit about 1/4 of each of the flours. If you absolutely do not have semolina, you can use all purpose flour for the entire 2 1/2 c. combined about of flour, and people swear by it. I personally prefer the extra elasticity that the semolina flour add because of its gluten content. 

6) After letting the dough rest for 30 min, roll out the dough, dusting with flour as you go. I HIGHLY recommend a stand mixer pasta attachment to do the rolling and cutting, and have not done this part without it. PROCEED WITHOUT A STAND MIXER PASTA ATTACHMENT AT YOUR OWN RISK.

7) Start out at the widest setting, and roll the dough in sections at a time. Lay each section you roll out on a flour dusted counter (I use semolina flour to lightly dust with pasta). I do all sections at a single thickness setting at a time. It ends up being 4 for me because I know how to handle bigger portions, but feel free to use smaller portions at a time until you get comfortable. I also end up running it through the roller  on the first setting about 3 times each section before setting on the flour dusted counter–before sending it through the widest setting the additional times I fold the dough in half, and repeat, until I get a pretty good rectangle section. Then each reduced thickness setting, I only need to run each dough section through once. After three different thickness settings, I change out the roller for the cutter dough attachment, and I generally just use the linguini attachment–but that is my preference. 

8) As you roll each section to be cut, I twist it in a loose nest on the floured surface and do not worry laying out the cut linguini and dust before making a nest out of each section…but again, that is up to you. 

9) Once all 8 of your nests are made, you can freeze the nests on a parchment lined cookie sheet until frozen, and store in a ziploc bag in the freezer for future meals. You can boil the pasta straight from the freezer without thawing if you do this. 

10) To cook the pasta nests, boil water with a dash of salt, add each nest (I really only do up to 4 at a time in my large ditch over pan). You know the nests are done when they float to the surface. It is about 5-6 min…but don’t hold me to that, because I don’t think I have properly timed it. 

11) To remove, I use a slotted spoon, make sure the water doesn’t puddle in the center of the nests to dilute your fresh sauce, plate, sauce, and bon appetite! Great job! You now get to enjoy the fruits of your labors!!!

 

Marsala Chicken

1/2 c flour

1 T Essense (Emeril’s Creole Seasoning)

2 boneless chicken breasts, butterflied, and pounded thin 

1 T olive oil

4 T butter (or more, tee hee hee)

 

3 c sliced mushrooms

3/4 c Marsala

1 c chicken stoke

Salt & Pepper to taste

Garnish with chopped chives or flat leaf Italian parsley

 

1) Mix the flour and Essence (see below). Dredge the pounded chicken on both sides.

2) Heat the oil on a pan on med-high heat until hot, but not smoking. Add the butter and cook the chicken golden brown, about 3 min. on each side. Remove to a plate, and set aside.

3) Melt 1 T butter, and sauce the mushrooms until the are browned and give off their liquid.

4) Add the Marsala wine, bring to a boil and cook off the alcohol for about 4 min.

5) Add the chicken stock, and boil for another 3 min.

6) Reduce the heat to medium, add the chicken to the sauce, and continue cooking for another 5-6 min.

7) Melt in the remaining butter to the thickened sauce.

8) Salt and pepper to taste, garnish with fresh herbs, and serve immediately.

Note: I prefer to serve it on a nest of Silky Fresh Spinach Pasta; you will find the recipe above.

Essence (Emeril’s Seasoning)

2 1/2 T paprika

2 T kosher salt

2 T garlic powder

1 T black pepper 

1 T onion powder or dehydrated onions 

 

1 T (or less for  less heat) cayenne pepper

1 T oregano

1 T thyme

Directions: Combine all the ingredients, and store in an airtight container. Yields about 2/3 c.

 

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