Last night I felt like putting myself up to a challenge. While baking and cooking each have their own special place in my heart, I know that baking is more of my specialty. I am more comfortable testing a new baked good recipe than I am trying a new main dish. My enchiladas were a success earlier this week, so why not try another new dinner? Bring it on!
Almost a year ago, I bookmarked a recipe called “Rigatoni di Gregorio.” Besides loving the name, this pasta dish sounded like something right up my alley. But somehow, some thing has been holding me back.
The ingredient that intimidated me most was the Marsala. I rarely, as in never, make homemade sauces. Whenever I make pasta, I mostly stick to canned tomato sauce to top it off. The only deviation I make is whether it’s meat flavored or roasted garlic.
Boiling noodles, chopping herbs and sauteing veggies are familiar to me. Creating a homemade Marsala cream sauce…not so much. This is where the challenge came into play. First of all, where do you even find Marsala?? I checked up and down the wine aisle to no avail. It is a type of wine right? Turns out it was in the cooking aisle with other spices and cooking liquids. But you probably already knew that.
I cheated a little bit by using the precooked grilled chicken from the deli section instead of cooking my own. It made the process much easier, and as hungry as I was getting while caramelizing the onions I needed this meal to be ready as quickly as possible.
I modified measurements from the original recipe and the recipe below reflects that. For the most part, these changes were decreases in the amount of liquids. And I still thought it was a bit too liquidy. But that is just my personal preference. I like thicker sauces that actually stick to the noodles. This sauce was still full of flavor that spread throughout every bite, so I’m not complaining.
As always, nothing goes with a nice Italian meal better than some wine! So don’t forget that very important addition.
Grilled Chicken Marsala Penne
Makes about 2-3 servings
1 1/2 cups dry penne
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms, rinsed and drained
2 cloves garlic, mined
1/4 cup Marsala cooking wine
3/4 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup half and half
2 teaspoons fresh basil, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup precooked grilled chicken, sliced
1. Bring medium pot of boiling water to a boil. Cook penne according to package directions, about 8-11 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a deep skillet. Once hot, add onions and cook for about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and continue to cook until onions are softened. Add garlic and stir ingredients together.
3. Remove skillet from heat and add Marsala. Stir to coat all ingredients. Pour in the chicken stock and turn heat back on to low. Let everything simmer for about 5-7 minutes. Add half and half and cook until heated. Mix in herbs, Parmesan and butter and stir until all ingredients are evenly dispersed.
4. Add cooked penne to the skillet and toss all ingredients together. Remove from heat and serve immediately. Top with cooked chicken and more Parmesan.