Okay, for that date you have on Saturday, I can't stress this enough: Do Not Make Instant Noodles!
A great alternative is Chicken Marsala, its not that hard to make, it will impress your guests, and it beats KFC. There are many different recipes for Chicken Marsala on the web, but this one is quite simple to make. Feel free to experiment and evolve it as you like.
The nice thing about this dish when you have company over is that the prep work can be done before, leaving you free to have a drink and chat with your guest until dinner time. The final steps before diner take no more than ten minutes.
The first and most important thing you will need is some Marsala wine, which is an Italian sweet red wine from Sicily that you can find in most major supermarkets. If you are fortunate enough to have a choice, go for the drier Marsala over the sweeter one. I don't have a choice so I am actually using a sweet marsala, which also makes for a great dessert accompaniment with something like banana bread with ice-cream.
Start by slicing your mushrooms*; you should have roughly one large mushroom per person. I use regular white mushrooms, but try your local variety for a different flavor.
Next, fry up some bacon in a skillet. We are going to top the chicken with bacon for some added saltiness to contrast the sweetness of the Marsala sauce, but this is optional if you do not like bacon.
When you bacon is ready, set it aside in some tin foil, but keep the grease in the skillet.
In the same skillet, add about a teaspoon of butter and, after it melts, add your mushrooms.
They say you shouldn't crowd your mushrooms; if you have a large skillet that is great. I don't have a large enough skillet so my mushrooms are forced to get to know each other a bit more than they care for.
I like to add some finely chopped garlic at this point; you can also add some shallots and finely chopped onions, but don't add so much that it overwhelms the mushrooms. For two mushrooms, add no more than half a shallot or one fistful of chopped onion.
After the mushrooms and nicely browned, add them to a sauce pan at low heat to start the marsala sauce preparation.
Add about one cup of marsala wine, and a bit of butter, and let it simmer on low heat. The sauce will need to simmer for about 20-30 minutes to properly reduce.
Wait until your sauce has reduced before you begin cooking the rest; you don't want to rush the sauce because the chicken is ready. The sauce is ready when it reduces and thickens, have a taste and add a pinch of salt as needed.
Once the sauce is ready, leave it on a very low heat, or turn off the stove if you want to wait before finishing up dinner.
Finally (for the prep work), cook the green beans in the mushroom-bacon butter with a pinch of salt and pepper. The green beans can cook for about 10 to 15 minutes on a low-medium heat, so this is a good time to sit and have a drink with your guests, the kitchen can be left alone for a while. Just pop in from time-to-time to check in on the green beans.
Once your green beans are done set them aside in some tin foil to keep warm.
When you are ready for dinner, add your chicken breasts to the skillet. I usually rub some salt and pepper on the chicken beforehand, you can also marinate them in a bit of olive oil if you like. On a medium heat, a standard chicken breast should be cooked after being grilled for about four to five minutes on each side, or when nicely browned on either side. If you're not sure, just slice into the thickest part of the breast and make sure there is no pink on the inside.
We are now ready to assemble the chicken marsala. First, plate the grilled chicken and add some bacon on the top.
On the bacon, arrange the sliced mushrooms from the saucepan.
Plate the green beans, and finally pour the sauce over the chicken, and a bit over the beans as well, if you like.
This dish is very nice with a soft red wine, preferably one that has been left open for a while to breathe. I don't want to offend any sommeliers out there, but I would have this with an Australian Shiraz-Cabernet blend, an Italian Montepulciano d'Abruzzo or, if you don't like red wine, a Californian Merlot.
*Tip: Don't throw away your mushrooms, refer to our "Let's not waste anything!" page, and check out few ideas on how to use your mushrooms.
As with all the other recipes we put on this site, this is meant to be easy to follow. We are hobby chefs who love to cook, and we are always up for learning new techniques. If you know of anything in this recipe which can be done a different way, whether for increased ease of preparation or better taste, please add a comment below!
Whipped up by Shyamal Addanki
Whipped up by Shyamal Addanki