Chicken Champions

Emeril’s Chicken Marsala Has a Tiny Problem We Didn’t Expect

published Mar 2, 2020
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Pearl Jones; Design: The Kitchn

Even if you’ve never cooked any of his recipes, you’re likely familiar with celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse and his “New New Orleans” style of cooking. At the very least, you’ve probably heard him yell “Bam!” on Emeril Live. He certainly isn’t shy about raiding the spice cabinet to bring big flavors to his food, and his Creole and Cajun flair infiltrates everything he cooks.

His five-star chicken Marsala, as I recently learned, is no exception. The recipe is one of the most beloved and searched-for chicken Marsala recipes on the Internet, and it’s packed with Creole flavor. Would this interesting twist on the classic make his chicken Marsala better than the rest? I was eager to find out. Here’s what I learned.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Pearl Jones; Design: The Kitchn

How To Make Emeril’s Chicken Marsala

You’ll start by mixing together the Essence spice mix, which is Emeril’s Creole seasoning mix. It consists of paprika, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, dried oregano, and dried thyme. Stir one tablespoon of the mix (save the rest for another use) with all-purpose flour to coat the pounded chicken breasts.

You’ll sear the chicken over medium-high heat in a mix of oil and unsalted butter for about three minutes per side, then transfer to a plate. Add more butter to the pan and sauté the mushrooms until the liquid is released.

Next, deglaze the pan with Marsala wine, and once it’s reduced by half, stir in the chicken broth. Simmer the liquid for a few minutes until slightly thickened, return the chicken the pan, and simmer until it’s cooked through (about five minutes). Lastly, swirl two more pats of butter into the sauce.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Pearl Jones

My Honest Review of Emeril’s Chicken Marsala

A number of reviewers on the original recipe noted that it comes out great every time, and I couldn’t agree more: The recipe is simple, easy to follow, and really reliable. But the recipe had one flaw, which I really didn’t expect. In fact, I anticipated the opposite.

As I was measuring out the ingredients for Emeril’s Essence, I was certain the spice mix would overpower the classic savory-sweet wine sauce. As it turns out, my initial impression was all wrong. The Essence spice mix is warm and smoky and packs some heat, and Emeril shows a lot of restraint by adding just a little bit to the flour coating. Too much restraint, actually. The spice blend is what makes this riff on the classic recipe so unique, but it was more subtle than I expected and I found myself wanting more.

Overall, though, I did really love this recipe — and with a few easy tweaks it could be amazing! But I docked a few points for the too-subtle flavor.

Credit: Kelli Foster

If You’re Making Emeril’s Chicken Marsala, a Few Tips

1. Make less Essence spice mix, but use more of it in the dish. The seasoning mix as written will leave you with 2/3 cup, and the recipe calls for just one tablespoon. Scale it down by measuring everything in teaspoons rather than tablespoons, which yields a scant 1/4 cup of the spice blend. Then, go ahead and use two tablespoons (double the suggested amount) in the recipe.

2. Season the chicken before coating with flour. While there’s salt in the spice mix, there’s no salt added directly to the chicken. To ensure the chicken is well-seasoned, sprinkle the breasts all over with 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt before dredging in flour.

3. Buy 8 ounces of mushrooms. The ingredient list calls for mushrooms by volume (3 cups worth), but that’s not helpful when grocery shopping. Three cups is about the equivalent of an 8 ounce package of mushrooms.

4. The chicken will not be fully cooked after searing. The instructions don’t mention this, but it’s helpful to know that the chicken doesn’t get cooked all the way through when searing. You’ll cook it just to get some good browning on the outside, and the chicken will later finish cooking in the sauce.

Rating: 8/10

Have you ever made Emeril’s chicken Marsala? Tell us what you thought!

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Pearl Jones; Design: The Kitchn