A few years back, my friend and fellow Times reporter Francis McCabe gave me this cookbook for my birthday.
At that time, Francis and I both worked nights at the paper and after deadline, we would sit around and talk food, relationships, life goals, the novels we would write one day, the ins and outs of life and everything in between.
Or we would go to the bar.
We usually went to the bar.
But, thinking back, Francis managed to pull information out of me like few people could. He probably knew me better than most of my friends at that time and definitely better than any of my co-workers. Francis is capable of making you feel like he really wants to know you. I think he makes most people feel like that.
Francis now works in Las Vegas, but I think of our friendship each time I use this cookbook. Francis gave me this cookbook not because of the recipes inside, but because I thought Tyler Florence was the most delicious man, ever.
You've got to love a man fresh in from the harvest. This was, of course, before I met my husband who does not harvest vegetables. But he does clean the pool, and mow the lawn, and fix things around the house which is equally as hot. Perhaps, even hotter.
When Francis left The Times to go work in Vegas, I decided I would throw him a dinner party at my apartment and invite a few friends over to wish Francis well. And I decided it would be even more special if I made the menu from the cookbook Francis had given me. That was the first time I made this chicken dish, Pan-Roasted Chicken with Porcini Mushrooms, Prosciutto and Marsala Sauce, which has turned out to be my very favorite chicken dish to prepare.
My husband disagrees, and says the Alice Springs Chicken is his favorite. But I love how all these flavors -- especially the salty prosciutto -- combine with the Marsala sauce to give it a perfect salty/sweet balance.
From the sound of it, this recipe may seem complicated and intimidating, but it's actually pretty simple and you're likely to have some/most of these ingredients swimming around somewhere in your pantry.
Pan-Roasted Chicken with Porcini Mushrooms, Prosciutto and Marsala Sauce
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
3/4 cup all purpose flour, for dredging
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces of thinly sliced prosciutto (I used the pre-packaged prosciutto, which is about 3 oz. but is still enough)
8 ounces of fresh porcini or cremini mushrooms (or whatever you find in your supermarket, I used a bag of washed, sliced mushrooms)
1/2 cup sweet Marsala wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Put the chicken breasts side by side on a cutting board and lay a piece of plastic wrap over them. Pound to about 1/2 inch thick with a flat meat mallet, a heavy saucepan or a bottle (I use a rolling pin and this step is very fulfilling after a long, aggravating day at work).
- Put flour in a shallow dish and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper, mix with your fingers and taste to make sure it's well seasoned.
- Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. When skillet is hot, dredge chicken cutlets in the seasoned flour, shake off the excess and put the cutlets into the pan and fry for 5 to 7 minutes on each side, until golden, turning once (Do in batches if cutlets don't fit comfortably in the pan). Remove chicken to a large platter and cover with foil to keep warm.
- Now, make your sauce. Lower the heat to medium and add the prosciutto to the pan. Add a drizzle of olive oil (about 2 tbsp) and saute for about 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and add another drizzle of olive oil. Saute until mushrooms are nicely browned and their moisture has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper.
- Pour the Marsala wine into the pan and boil down for a few seconds to cook out the alcohol. Then add the chicken stock to simmer for a minute to reduce the sauce slightly.
- Stir in the butter and return chicken to the pan. Simmer gently for 1 minute to heat the chicken through.
- Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley before serving.