I am such a person of routine. Last week I got a new planner and I spent over an hour filling in calendars and making lists in it. It makes me so happy. The problem though is that I tend to stick with these plans and I fall into routine so easily. Getting up at the same time, going to bed at the same time. I go to the grocery store at the same time every week. I have dinner patterns and shopping patterns and exercise patterns and cleaning patterns.
And as much as this helps me when it comes to keeping my life relatively organized, I also realize that it sometimes keeps it boring. Gerrit and I have become horrible about getting out and doing things. We have just fallen into what is easiest, coming home and having dinner and doing a little work and watching some of our favorite shows. And while I love having such a simple and comforting routine most of the time, sometimes we need to get out of that pattern.
The other day we were talking about this and realized, rather sadly, that we haven’t gone out to eat by ourselves in months, perhaps since our anniversary in August. We’ve gone out with family and friends, and we’ve stopped for a quick bite to eat on the road, but we haven’t gone out for a dinner date in months. And that’s just pathetic. (Although, I have to say, sometimes it’s with good reason because we often eat better at home than we would at so many restaurants.)
As we were talking about this I was suddenly craving chicken marsala from one of my favorite restaurants. Which of course I decided to make a version of at home, having stumbled upon this recipe with pecans in an old Southern Living. And no, we have not gone out for our meal yet (honestly, the end of last week was just a little too crazy getting ready for our most recent tailgating adventures). But we’re going soon. I promise. Actually, I think it’s going to be one of my goals next month that we get out and do something we don’t usually do at least once a week.
And in the meantime, this quick recipe will do. It’s a standard chicken marsala with pecans added into the breading to give it a subtle nut flavor. Then we toast pecans in butter and sprinkle it over the top of the dish for some extra crunch. Yes, a little bit of twist on chicken marsala, but perfect for fall.
Chicken Marsala with Pecans
adapted from Southern Living Magazine October 2011
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup pecan halves
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon butter
2/3 cup pecan halves, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 oz. assorted mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup Marsala
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley (optional)
1. In a small food processor, combine the 1/3 cup flour with 1/3 cup pecan halves. Process until finely ground and then pour the flour and pecan mixture into a shallow bowl or onto a plate.
2. Place the chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a mallet or rolling pin until they are flattened to 1/4 inch thickness. If the chicken is thick, cut it in half horizontally (so it opens like a book) before flattening. Leave it as one big piece of chicken, or cut it into two smaller halves.
3. In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the chopped pecans and cook until the pecans are toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove pecans and set them aside.
4. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil to skillet and increase heat to medium-high. While the butter and oil are heating, season both sides of the chicken liberally with salt and pepper and then lightly dredge in the flour mixture, shaking off the excess flour. Add the chicken to the pan and cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Then remove the chicken and set aside.
5. Add the mushrooms to the skillet and cook until they are tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add the broth and marsala and use a wooden spoon to scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium. Cook until the sauce is reduced and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from the heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter, swirling it around in the pan until melted.
6. Spoon the sauce with the mushrooms over the chicken and sprinkle with toasted pecans and optional parsley. Serve warm.