monthly cooking class: chicken marsala

My mom was a caterer for over 15 years.  One of her most popular dishes was her chicken marsala. This was also one of her most coveted recipes and refused to give it out to anyone – even me! For my wedding shower, she gave me a collection of her recipes and DID NOT INCLUDE the marsala recipe! Somehow, I talked my mom into sharing her secrets to one of her most loved dishes at April’s monthly cooking class.

For those of you unfamiliar with this dish, check out the wiki:

Chicken marsala is an Italian dish made from chicken cutlets, mushrooms, and Marsala wine. The chicken is coated in flour, briefly sautéed, and then removed from the pan, which is then used to make a Marsala reduction sauce. The sauce is made by reducing the wine to nearly the consistency of a syrup while adding onions or shallots, as well as mushrooms, herbs and possibly other ingredients. The sauce is then poured over the chicken, which has been kept in a warming oven, and served immediately. In an alternative method, the chicken breasts may be braised in a mixture of Marsala, butter, olive oil, mushrooms, and spices. The dish is commonly served with a side of rice pilaf, potatoes, or pasta.

A PERSONAL NOTE: This is epic that I am able to share the following information with you.  I have made a promise to my mom to not fully divulge the entire method of preparing this recipe or the measurements of the ingredients. She actually had NO CLUE how much of each item to use because she always just threw it together! I hope you can make it work for you based on what I’m giving you so you can enjoy it yourself.



  • Boneless skinless chicken breast
  • Marsala Wine
  • Chicken Broth
  • Butter
  • Mushrooms
  • Flour
  • Bread crumbs (Italian style preferred)
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Canola Oil
  • Salt & Pepper


Chicken breasts, without skin or bones, are split length wise to a cutlet shape.

The chicken is dipped in a egg and milk mixture and then coated with bread crumbs:

Once breaded, the chicken is then fried in canola oil:

…then removed from the pan to drain off the excess oil.

To keep the chicken warm and to ensure they are fully cooked, place your fried chicken pieces in a roasting pan and put them in the oven at 350 degrees while preparing the marsala sauce.

In a separate pan, begin the sauce by sautéing the mushrooms with some butter.

Marsala sauce is made with marsala wine, chicken broth, water, flour and spices:

…all which are reduced over heat with the mushrooms and butter.

Once the sauce is at your desired consistancy, pour the sauce over your breaded chicken:

…and serve to your very hungry guests:

MY THOUGHTS ON THE RECIPE: These are the few tips I can share with you:

  • My mom always split her chicken breasts while catering to get more bang for her buck. It also helps to speed the cooking process along. Otherwise, the chicken would be frying/baking well through you game of dominoes (inside family joke).
  • Traditionally, the chicken in this recipe is not breaded, but just sauteed. My mom felt the breading gave the sauce something to hold on to, therefore enhancing the flavoring.
  • Peas are usually thrown in with the mushrooms, but we’re not that kind of group. When my friend Pam asked for another veggie to use instead of the mushrooms, my mom suggested onions. I’m interested to try that sub/add myself.
  • Based on my research, my mom used A LOT MORE WINE than the other recipes I came across. Strangely though, the alcohol cooked off pretty quickly, leaving that yummy marsala taste.

We all sat down to our meal comprised of mom’s Chicken Marsala, Confetti Cole Slaw, Aunt Linda’s Broccoli Salad and Rachael Ray’s Chicken with Tarragon Cream last Saturday afternoon and ate like royalty.  Funny how a room goes dead quiet once a really great meal is served! I think it was the only time that day my parents’ house was silent!  Thanks again to my mom for being her awesome self and teaching us some great family recipes!

monthly cooking class: confetti cole slaw

You may remember from Part Two of this month’s cooking class, my mom included a few side dishes chocked full of veggies. She also shared this recipe for a coleslaw that is definitely a splurge to your healthy food consumption budget.


(Enough to serve a LARGE crowd. Adapted from Winery Cooking with Tom Johnson/Buehler’s Adventures in Cooking.)


  • 1 medium head of cabbage, sliced in a food processor with medium slicing disc.
  • 1 bunch of scallions, white and green, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound of carrots, peeled and grated with medium grating disc
  • 2 zucchini, diced
  • 1 small head of broccoli, diced and broken into tiny flowerettes
  • 1 sweet red pepper, julienned
  • 1 cup toasted pecan pieces
  • 1 box frozen peas, thoroughly defrosted

Mix together the above ingredients in the largest bowl you can find.

Combine the following ingredients for the Savanna Slaw Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup powdered mustard
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup fresh bacons drippings
  • 1 1/2 cups salad oil
  • salt, to taste
  • Tabasco sauce, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed (optional)

Place the egg yolks in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Over moderate heat, cook the yolks until they are thick and sticky, but not set.

Off heat, stir in the vinegar, sugar, and the powdered mustard. Add the bacon drippings and the salad oil to the egg mixture.

Wisk until a light liaison is formed. Adjust seasoning with salt and Tabasco sauce. ½ teaspoon celery seed can also be added.

Pour dressing over veggies and mix very well. Let sit to allow the dressing to soak into the veggies.

MY THOUGHTS ON THE RECIPE: The slaw ended up turning out very flavorful, but with bacon drippings as an ingredient, how could it not?!  This recipe made a RIDICULOUS amount of food, so know that the serving estimate is dead on.  While I don’t think that the dressing was necessarily “heavy”, my healthy eating brain couldn’t justify making it on a regular basis. Definitely a splurge – and a tasty one at that – but I’m gonna stick to my famous pasta salad!


monthly cooking class: broccoli salad

My darling mother wanted to appease her picky eater of a daughter at this month’s cooking class by featuring a few side dishes packed full of veggies. She reached out to her sister Linda for one of  her tried and true recipes. This broccoli salad has been served to many Air Force service people and their families, and each of them have been pleased to enjoy it over the years!


Courtesy of Aunt Linda. Serves enough for a crowd.


  • 2 bunches of broccoli, chopped
  • 10 slices of bacon (fried & crumbled)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. vinegar
  • sunflower seeds (optional)


Combine broccoli, bacon, raisins and onion in a bowl. To make sauce, combine mayo, sugar and vinegar.

Pour sauce over veggie mixture, mix well and let sit. You may add sunflower seeds for added taste, if desired.

MY THOUGHTS ON THE RECIPE: Does this not scream summer BBQ to anyone else? I do wish we had the time to let the dressing really soak into the broccoli mixture. Sort of like pasta salad, you knew this would taste better the next day once everything had a chance to marry in the bowl.  While the healthy eater in me was freaking out about the bacon, mayo and sugar (EEK!), my taste buds were quite content. We didn’t include the raisins or the seeds due to some dietary restrictions in our group, but I think they would have only added to this yummy side dish.

What can I say, I’m a broccoli fan. This guy, on the other hand, is not:

He much prefers chicken marsala. Do you blame him? At least you have two more parts in this month’s cooking class series TO LOOK FORWARD TO!

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