I had almost forgotten what it felt like to eat dinner before dark, with the waning sunlight falling golden all around you, with the windows open, with a lazy easiness. I did just this on Saturday night with my mother sitting across the table, two twinkling tea lights and a platter of chicken marsala between us. And it was lovely, just lovely. Get this: we even went for a walk around my neighborhood after dinner. It was that warm!
My mom was in town for the weekend, while Kevin was away with his friends (on mancation, as I like to call it), which means I had her all to myself. What a treat! We took full advantage of the one-on-one time by doing all the things we both love to do (but that certain other family members, ahem, aren’t so keen on). We walked, we watched girlie television shows and movies, we went to a musical, we sipped sauvignon blanc and cava, we swapped recipes and food magazines, we ate, we cooked. While I worked on Friday, she even read the book I just finished, so we could talk about it over the weekend.
We fit a lot into the short time she was here and, by Saturday night, we had the fatigue to prove it. We had dinner reservations, but we ended up cancelling them and staying in. My mom had a hankering for chicken (her husband is poultry-averse) and I was craving mushrooms (my husband, as is well documented on this blog, is a fungus-phobe). Chicken marsala was the perfect fit (plus, it was one of my favorite things to eat at an Italian place near my parents’ house growing up and it always reminds me of my mom anyway).
So she wielded the meat mallet to pound the chicken breasts, while I sliced mushrooms and shallots into thin half-moons; I boiled the fettucine while she slathered some thin asparagus stalks with olive oil; she set the table and poured the wine while I pan fried the chicken and let the mushrooms and some tiny frozen peas drink up the rich marsala sauce.
Then we feasted, with that golden light falling around us, with those windows open, with that lazy easiness, with that walk waiting for us after we ate. All in all, the weekend was a complete indulgence—and over too soon. I miss her already and I hope she’s having a spectacular birthday today!
Adapted from Cooking Light
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons thinly sliced shallots
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, pounded to 1/4-inch thickness
kosher salt and fresh-cracked black pepper1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1/2 cup frozen green peas
2 tablespoons cream
8 ounces whole wheat fettuccine, cooked in boiling, salted water
Heat oil in a large skillet; add mushrooms, shallots, and garlic. Cook 3 minutes or until moisture evaporates; remove mushroom mixture from pan. Set aside.
Meanwhile, sprinkle the pounded chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Place the flour in a shallow bowl and dredge the chicken breasts through the flour. Shake to remove excess flour.
In the skillet used to saute the mushrooms, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Remove chicken from pan and keep warm. Return mushroom mixture to pan; add broth and Marsala, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until reduced to 1 cup. Stir in peas; cook 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon butter, cream, and salt and pepper to taste, stirring until butter melts. Return chicken to pan; cook until thoroughly heated. Serve chicken and sauce over pasta.