mmm-mmm chicken

The original title for this recipe was “MMM Chicken,” which is shorthand for Mustard, Mascarpone, Marsala Chicken, but more accurately it should be “MMMM Chicken” because one of its best features is a pound of cremini mushrooms. If you make it on a Monday, as I most recently did, it’s gonna need another M…so “MMMMM Chicken.” Even after five M’s, I couldn’t take my finger off of the M key. This pasta is just that mmm-mmm good. It’s kind of like this:

Oh, Bob.

mushroom marsala mascarpone chicken pasta via butter poached

This isn’t one of Fay’s recipes, but rather one of Giada de Laurentis’s. I used to be a big fan of Giada’s—I even had her sign my copy of Everyday Italian 10 (yikes!) years ago. I hadn’t given her much thought recently until Google presented me with this recipe. When I watched the online clip of Giada preparing this dish, it felt pleasantly nostalgic to roll my eyes at her emphatic Italian pronunciations of mascarponay and fet—too—chini. I was also reminded that she is darn good at coming up with keeper pasta recipes.

mushroom marsala mascarpone chicken pasta via butter poached

Speaking of which, this silky, luxurious meal is very simple to pull together. It’s unique and a bit sophisticated, making it great for company. The mushrooms are the stars of the show—they do their magic trick of soaking up all the fat in the pan, then releasing it with their own liquid (great for scraping up all the tasty brown bits), and then absorbing the double-tasty juices again. The result is a pan full of meaty, rich morsels. The sauce involves reducing a cup of Marsala wine by half and stirring in a cup of mascarpone cheese and two tablespoons of Dijon mustard. It’s slightly sweet from the wine, sharp from the mustard, and smooth and creamy from the cheese. It’s the kind of recipe I could eat endlessly, but thankfully the chicken and mushroom combination is filling, so there are always plenty of leftovers for lunch. You know, Mid-day Mushroom Mustard Mascarpone Marsala Chicken, mmmmm…mmmmm.

mushroom marsala mascarpone chicken pasta via butter poached

liquid the mushrooms release and then reabsorb

chicken with mushrooms, mustard, mascarpone, and marsala sauce
adapted from Giada de Laurentis and the Food Network

Some commenters on the Food Network complained that the sauce has too strong of a mustard flavor. I disagree, but if you’re not particularly keen on Dijon, you might want to scale back to 1 tablespoon.

Serves 4 to 6.

ingredients

14 to 16 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 pound cremini mushrooms, cleaned, dried, and thickly sliced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 cup dry Marsala wine
1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
8 ounces bowtie pasta

instructions

Pound the chicken fillets until they are approximately ¼ inch thick. Salt and pepper both sides.

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over high heat. Add the chicken and cook until just brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove browned chicken to a plate and allow to rest while you make the sauce.

Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the butter to the pan used for the chicken. Add the onions and cook until tender, approximately 2 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and garlic and cook until the mushrooms are tender and have reabsorbed their liquid, approximately 12 minutes. Be sure to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Pour in the wine and simmer until reduced by half, approximately 4 minutes. Stir in the mascarpone and mustard.

Cut the browned chicken breasts into approximately 3/4-inch by 2-inch slices. Return chicken pieces and accumulated juices to pan and stir to incorporate. Cook over medium-low heat until slightly thickened and warmed through. Stir in parsley. Taste for salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to boil. Cook bowtie pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain well.

Stir pasta into the chicken-mushroom mixture. Serve hot.

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