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Three Simple Italian Chicken Dishes Everyone Should Know How to Make: Marsala, Piccata, and Bruschetta

It’s extremely rare that I order a chicken dish at a restaurant. You see, I’m always disappointed when I opt for the all-too common and generally unexciting bird. After just a few measly bites I catch myself mumbling, “Ehh, I could’ve made this at home.” Then I feel regretful and let me tell you, nothing is worse for a foodie than “menu regret.” For me, chicken=menu regret. Yet, let me be clear. I’m not a chicken hater. I just think it’s very easy to work with so why spend 18 bucks for a plate of it?

There are a few staple chicken dishes in my home. Not surprising that they’re Italian since it’s my absolute favorite cuisine. Simple, delicious, and tried and true, they should be “go-to’s” in your kitchen too. With all three being legitimate 30-minute meals (I’m no bubbly Rachael Ray); even the busiest of guys and gals can conquer cooking them.

                                          Chicken Marsala

It’s sweet, it’s savory, and it’s downright trouble-free. If you’re a friend of fungus and enjoy wine sauced poultry, then Chicken Marsala is calling your name. There’s a 99% chance you’ve enjoyed eating the simple delight before (If you’re the 1%...what’s wrong with you?) Why not master cooking this classic? A perfect dish for company, you’ll be thankful you added it to your repertoire.

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, butterflied and halved
1 regular sized container of sliced mushrooms (I prefer baby portabellas)
¼ cup thinly sliced shallot (optional)
All purpose Flour (I use organic whole wheat)
3-4 tablespoons EVOO
1-cup sweet Marsala wine (don’t get the dry!!!)
4-6 fresh sage leaves, cut in chiffonade strips

1) Liberally season chicken halves with salt and pepper. Then, dredge chicken in flour and shake off the excess.
2) In a large stainless steel pan, bring EVOO to medium high heat. When it starts to sizzle, add chicken pieces. Don’t overcrowd the pan-cook in 2 batches if you need to. Brown chicken on each side (about 2-3 minutes each). Then, transfer to a plate.
3) Add shallots and a little more EVOO if the pan is dry. Soften the shallots (2 min.).
4) Add the mushrooms and sauté for another 2 minutes. Now, add the Marsala wine.
5) Scrape up the brown bits combining them with the mushrooms and wine. Bring to a slight boil until the wine sauce has thickened some (5-7 min.).
6) Turn down the heat to medium low. Add chicken back into the pan and continue to let the sauce thicken while the chicken finishes cooking (another 5 min.)
7) Plate the chicken. Mix the sage leaves into the sauce. Pour over chicken.
**Best served over egg noodles or garlic mashed potatoes
***Serves 2-4 depending on portion size.

                                          Chicken Piccata

This one’s for the lemon lovers and the olive freaks. No, Piccata doesn’t actually call for olives. It calls for their tastier, tinier, and delightfully saltier cousin- capers. With a dredging process much like Marsala, Piccata has a delicious layer of sautéed flour. Made with butter, lemon, butter, and some more butter…. it’s an instant crowd pleaser. Okay, you know how I roll. My Piccata doesn’t call for the standard stick of butter. Yet, it’s still insanely delectable, guaranteed.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in halves
All purpose flour (I use Organic whole wheat flour)
3 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons EVOO
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ cup chicken stock
¼ cup brined capers
1 clove minced garlic
½ cup Artichoke leaves (an untraditional twist but I love it…remove the hearts and mix in only the leaves)
1/3 cup fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1) Liberally season chicken halves with salt and pepper. Then, dredge chicken in flour and shake off the excess.
2) In a large stainless steel pan over medium high heat, melt 1-tablespoon butter with 4 tablespoons EVOO. When it starts to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken, and brown on each side (about 2-3 minutes each). Then, transfer to a plate.
3) Add another tablespoon of butter and 3 tablespoons EVOO. When sizzling, add the other two chicken halves and brown on each side. Now, transfer that chicken to the plate.
4) Into the pan add the chicken stock, lemon juice, and minced garlic. Scrape up all the brown bits and mix them in with the liquid (this will thicken it creating a sauce). Add the capers and artichokes (optional) and bring the mixture to a slight boil.
5) Add all of the chicken back into the pan and simmer for 5 minutes.
6) Remove chicken and plate on a platter. Add parsley to the sauce in the pan.
7) Pour the sauce over the platted chicken and add another sprinkling of parsley (if desired).

**Best served over egg noodles or orzo
***Makes 2-4 servings depending on portion size

                                        Chicken Bruschetta

You probably already know that I ban carbs from my diet 90% of the time. I’m not going to lie…it really, really sucks. I find myself craving Italian treats like Bruschetta all the time. It’s those times when I sub grilled chicken for crostini and throw a heaping pile of tomatoes, basil, and garlic on top. Not as divine as the tomato covered French toast, it’s still pretty damn tasty.

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, butterflied
½ cup of your favorite Italian dressing (I use Newman’s Own Organic Tuscan Italian)
2 cups diced tomatoes (with most seeds and juices discarded)
8-12 fresh basil leaves cut chiffonade style
¼ cup hand-minced garlic (Yes, I like lots of garlic. Don’t use the garlic press for this)
3 tablespoons EVOO
¾ cup Balsamic Vinegar (Preferably aged)
Sea salt and pepper

1) Marinade chicken breasts in Italian dressing for 20-30 minutes.
2) In a bowl, combine diced tomatoes, basil, garlic, 2 tablespoons EVOO, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Set the bruchetta aside.
3) Using an outdoor grill or a grill pan on the stove (medium high heat) cook your butterflied chicken breasts (6-8 minutes on each side, depending on thickness).
4) While your chicken is cooking, add Balasmic vinegar to a small pot on the stove. On medium-high heat, let the balsamic come to a boil and gradually reduce/thicken.
5) Plate your grilled chicken. Top with bruschetta mixture and drizzle Balsamic on top.
**Best served with buttered Angel Hair or Orzo.

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