A lot of us have watched our favorite TV Chefs cook with alcohol. A splash of white wine for Italian, a half a cup of red wine to help braise meat dishes and a shot of rum to make that Bananas Foster dessert irresistible. It’s pretty neat when you watch the pros do it, but executing the same ideas in a home kitchen can be tricky without the proper knowledge and technique.
One of the most commonly used wines in cooking is Marsala wine. The flavors in this complex vino include tobacco, vanilla, apricot, tamarind and brown sugar. This Sicilian wine can be dry or sweet, but both are used often to create rich sauces and glazes for meat. There are a few simple tricks and tips when cooking with this complex wine; be sure to follow them all when you attempt your own Marsala Wine recipe.
Tip #1- Would You Drink It?
The flavor of whichever brand you choose will be the flavor that is imparted into your dish. Any drinker of wine knows that there are good bottles and bad bottles, so that should always be the rule of thumb. Would you enjoy drinking a glass of your chosen Marsala wine? If yes, then go for it! If not, you should reconsider.
Tip #2- Add it Gradually
Wine is used as seasoning, so you must use it judiciously, just as you would with salt, pepper, fresh herbs or any other flavoring agent. You can always add more, but too much too fast can ruin the balance of flavor in any Marsala wine recipe. Trying to save a dish that has been overpowered by one flavor is nearly impossible to do- make sure you add your wine a little at a time.
Tip #3- Reduce!
The culinary term ‘reduce’ refers to letting any liquid slowly evaporate and thicken over low heat. Generally, this creates a tasty roux or gravy and with wine it’s an extra important step. This is because wines are naturally very acidic and reducing it in a pan will help remove some of that acidity while strengthening all the other, more subtle flavor components.
Once you learn to stick with these simple tips, you’re ready to cook.
Consider these easy but tasty interpretations of classic Marsala dishes.
This tasty recipe never gets old. Chicken breasts are seasoned and coated in flour before being pan fried to a beautiful golden brown and topped with a savory sauce of Marsala, chicken stock, butter and onions.
Chicken Marsala with Pasta
A traditional Chicken Marsala recipe gets an upgrade with the addition of buttered noodles and asparagus spears in this simple but imaginative twist. The entire recipe takes only thirty-five minutes to prepare, and serves four lucky guests.
Skillet Chicken with Marsala & Mixed Mushrooms
Most Chicken Marsala recipes include sliced mushrooms, but this extra special version incorporates an assortment of wild mushrooms that gives it distinction. The addition of a sweet onion and garlic balances the earthy notes of all the mushrooms. As an added bonus, this recipe would be terrific for vegetarians. Just omit the chicken and substitute vegetable broth for Chicken stock and voila! You’ve got a tasty vegetarian dish that’s hearty and satisfying, thanks to all those ‘meaty’ mushrooms.
Everyone has heard of chicken and Marsala, but steak is also a little known pairing that tastes great. To complement strips of beef tenderloin or sirloin steaks, a reduction of Marsala wine, garlic, Au Jus gravy mix and fresh chopped thyme is created. Try this satisfying entrée with a baked potato and side salad.
Marsala wine can take almost any dish from flat to spectacular. Observing our tips for cooking with Marsala, try any one of our tasty recipes and discover your new favorite flavor, today!