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Culinary Marriage Counseling: Chicken Marsala with Cremini Mushrooms and Sage (for two)


December 23, 2009

I am admittedly bossy, opinionated, and very confident that I’m usually right. While this has served me well at times, it is not always the most productive strategy for one’s marriage. Take last night for example. Tucked in bed, leaving the next day for a business trip, and having been working long hours and seeing little of Matt we offer to do our patented back-rub trade. I went first and provided what I considered to be a top-notch 10 minute experience (being bossy, opinionated and confident, I am known to time our back rubs). We then swapped and as Matt was getting started I felt that he wasn’t living up to his potential (in the back rub department). He seemed distracted, uncommitted, and lacking focus. Determined to help improve the situation I offered the helpful suggestion, muffled from my face in the pillow, to “really get into those muscles”. I accentuated my tone with a drawl/growl that I considered to be both encouraging and tough, just as a veteran coach would do. Matt stopped rubbing, I popped my head up from the pillow like a prairie dog and we both burst out laughing.

Why I thought I could or should critique his back rub is beyond me. I’m afraid to admit I’m not much better in the kitchen. I am notorious for looking at whatever he’s chopping or simmering or poaching and ask pointed questions such as, “You think you want to cut the chicken like that?” or “I think it calls for thickly chopped mushrooms, doesn’t it? Those look a little thin, don’t you think?”

Pending on Matt’s mood he will either acquiesce, blatantly ignore me, indulge me by answering, or leave the kitchen.

I’m working on being less of a tyrant in the kitchen as I often do enjoy cooking together. That said, some meals and their preparation are better suited for two. This Chicken Marsala is a great option. He works on the chicken and mushrooms prep, I begin the cooking, he makes the rice and veggie, I finish the sauce and dinner is done.

Sometimes, it is better cooking with two.

Serve with brown rice and steamed broccoli. Makes excellent leftovers.

Pairs well with a medium red wine such as a Sangiovese.

Chicken Marsala


2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Coarse salt and ground pepper

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast (cut into thirds and slightly flattened)

1 tablespoon olive oil

10 ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 shallot, minced

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage, plus more for garnish

1 cup sweet Marsala wine

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoon butter


Place flour in a shallow bowl; season generously with salt and pepper. Dredge each piece of chicken in flour, shaking off excess. I’ve found that you want the chicken pieces to be relatively thin so that they cook nicely without the outsides browning too much.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add chicken, and cook until golden on the outside and opaque throughout, 8 to 10 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm (reserve skillet).

Add mushrooms, shallot, sage, and 1/4 cup water to skillet; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing frequently, until mushrooms are tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add wine and cream; simmer over medium-high until slightly thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in butter; season with salt and pepper.

Top chicken with mushroom sauce, and garnish with sage.

Adapted from Everyday Food.


  1. Rachel Lanr says:

    This sounds very suspiciously like a very tall man with somewhat crazy hair who lives on the East Coast – maybe you’re related to him, I believe his first name is Tim? This post made me chuckle out loud – how I love you.

  2. Velva says:

    I smiled, then laughed when I read this post. The story is a familiar one including the trading of back rubs. 🙂 Over the years we have learned to cook together in the kitchen. Now, we are a pretty damn good team. He loves to follow directions and I love to use recipes only as a foundation (used to drive him nuts!).

    Your Chicken Marsala dish looks like the dish that is going to bring you together in the kitchen.

  3. ValleyWriter says:

    I love cooking with my husband, but like you, I have to bite my tongue sometimes. The harmony & yummy dishes we create together are worth it, though!

  4. Alisa says:

    What I love about this post is it strikes close to home.I really enjoy reading this.I came across your site from the foodieblogroll and I’d love to guide our readers to your site if you won’t mind.Just add your choice of foodista widget to this post and it’s all set, Thanks!

  5. […] Poultry: Chicken Marsala with Cremini Mushrooms and Sage […]

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