Monday, March 17, 2008

Light Chicken and Mushroom Marsala: It's Moist

One of my least favorite words in the English language is “moist.” I don’t like the way it slides off the tongue, stabbing it at the end with a sinister, pointy “t.” The sound squicks me out, like the feel of cheap velvet or foam rubbing against itself. What's more, “moist” makes even the most harmless utterances seem a little dirty. Lewd, even. I actively refrain from using it on a casual basis, especially when describing people. Because, let's face it: there's nothing creepier than, “Hey Bob, you look moist today."

This aversion is unfortunate, partly because it’s a pretty common word, but mostly due to the food blogging thing. “Moist” depicts almost every kind of well-made meal, and there are few-to-no substitutes for it. “Wet" connotes a soaking, “soggy” is too negative, and “humid," well ... let's not even discuss. It’s got to be “moist.” “Moist” means a cake is well made. “Moist” means cookies are chewy, but firm. “Moist” means you might be eating Alex’s Slightly Altered Light Chicken and Mushroom Marsala.

I got this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, who got it from the June 1995 issue of Gourmet. And man oh man, is it ever moist. It’s moist-esque. It’s the hostess with the moistest. The chicken is basically braised in broth and marsala wine, which not only imparts a marvelous flavor to the mushrooms, but y’know … the moist thing.

The original recipe called for skin-on chicken breasts and more butter than I was comfortable with. So, to cut the fat, I:
  • Used boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
  • Only used oil to sauté the mushrooms and onions, instead of a butter/oil combination.
  • Reduced the olive oil by a third.
It came out beautifully and went really well with egg noodles. All told, it's a classy, earthy meal-for-four under eight bucks. Not too shabby. And most definitely moist. (*cringe*)

Chicken and Mushroom Marsala

Serves 4
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 28 oz), halved
2 teaspoons olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 onion, sliced thin
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced thin
1/3 cup Marsala
2/3 cup chicken broth
1-1/2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves

1) Gently pat chicken dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and brown in two separate batches. When finished with each, transfer them to a plate so juices may redistribute throughout meat.

2) Add onion and mushrooms to skillet. Cook a few minutes, until "liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated," stirring occasionally. Add Marsala. Stir. Cook until Marsala is nearly gone. Add broth, chicken, and any chicken juices pooling on plate. Simmer until chicken is fully cooked, around 15 minutes, turning once halfway through. (I had very thick cuts, and this still timed out perfectly.) Move chicken back to plate.

3) Keep the sauce simmering until it reduces to around 1/3 cup. Kill heat. Salt and pepper the sauce to taste. Add butter. Stir sauce until butter is just melted. Serve chicken with sauce. Garnish with parsley.

Approximate Calories, Fat and Price Per Serving
352 calories, 9.75 g fat, $1.63

2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 28 oz): 875 calories, 9.9 g fat, $3.48
2 teaspoons olive oil: 79 calories, 8.9 g fat, $0.06
1-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter: 153 calories, 17.3 g fat, $0.15
2/3 onion, sliced thin: 42 calories, 0.1 g fat, $0.32
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced thin: 50 calories, 0.8 g fat, $1.50
1/3 cup Marsala: 142 calories, 0 g fat, $0.61
2/3 cup chicken broth: 64 calories, 2 g fat, $0.16
1-1/2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves: 2 calories, 0 g fat, $0.25
TOTAL: 1407 calories, 39 g fat, $6.53
PER SERVING (TOTAL/4): 352 calories, 9.75 g fat, $1.63

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monica said...

Eew, I hate the word "moist" more than the words "blouse" and "panties". Who knows why.

This recipe sounds nice, even though I don't eat chicken. Maybe I'll try it with tofu!

LJ said...

Yum, I'll have to try this one out.
I don't care for the word "moist" either, something about it just turns me off!

Take Care


Sherry said...

My sister and I used to have discussions about how much we didn't like the word "moist"! I thought we were alone in the world! :D


ps Your recipes always look so good!

Liz said...

Yeah, "moist" ranks right up there with "creamy". Ew.

Now that I think of it, there are many food-related terms that make me fidget. "Toppings" (hate that, don't know why) and calling a pizza a "pie".

The recipe looks great, though!

jody said...

Oh my goodness-i am so glad to know i am not the only one in the world-i HATE the word moist, along with all the other ones everyone stated above!! my whole family mocks me for it and make jokes that include all the gross words i hate strung together-one of their favorites being "moist panties"-could you just gag all over the place??? ewwwww! in fact, when i read the title of your post i said "ew gross!" then read it and laughed right out loud. glad to be among my people here :)!!

Kris said...

Ladies! I had no idea this was so widespread. I'm thinkin' we can start an activist group here and call it WAM (Women Against Moist). Who's with me?

jody said...

sign me up for WAM-I can be one of the officers even :)! and to Liz above-there is a dog across the street from me whose NAME is Creamy-ugh! gag!!! grosss!! i just call it "doggie" whenevr i see it-i cannot even bring myself to use it's name

Kelly said...

OK, this comment is way after the fact, but I just had to say that I made this dish for my parents and grandparents tonight, and it got raves. Everyone was super-impressed with my cooking ability, and my mom (a chronic dieter) was happy because it's light.

(Also, it was totally moist. Ew, I'm getting grossed out just typing it.)

Ginger said...

Tried this tonight, the biggest surprise was the parsley, which I hate and never use. But in the picture the chicken is just covered, so I tried it and it really added a peppy little zip. And yes, the chicken was luscious.

Chelsey said...

Mmm.. this was one of my favorites. I served it with some garlic mashed potatoes.