Sure, you've probably had chicken marsala once or twice at a restaurant. But can you remember the last time you ever cooked with Marsala wine? This fortified wine from Sicily is an underused ingredient and it's time to discover all it has to offer.
With these gourmet recipes you'll learn easy techniques for cooking with Marsala wine. Whether you'd like to whip up an Italian ricotta cheesecake, scrumptious chocolate cake or a succulent pork chop dinner, everything tastes better with a splash of Marsala. But first, here’s a sip of this superb ingredient’s backstory.
Marsala: Sicilian tradition brought to the world's attention by the British
Marsala is the first Italian wine to have received Protected Designation of Origin status, back in 1969. It is made from the white grape varieties Grillo, Inzolia, Catarratto and Damaschino, among others. The source of its widespread recognition as a prized beverage can be traced back to one event in 1773. This year, an English trader was forced by a storm to come into port in Marsala, Sicily. Here, he sampled a local wine and liked it, so he bought a large quantity of it. To keep it from spoiling, he added alcohol to it, and the end result met with great success with the English. Marsala promptly went international and has been intertwined with English trade and tradition ever since.
Marsala wine is classified according to its colour, sweetness and how long it’s been aged. Its three levels of sweetness are categorised as secco, semisecco and sweet.
Here's what to cook with Marsala wine:
Pigeon on bruschetta and chanterelles
Mushrooms and Marsala wine are a heavenly pairing. This dynamic duo makes an appearance in this exquisite recipe from British chef Theo Randall which includes pancetta, Swiss chard, and chanterelles. If you can't find pigeon at your local market substitute with Cornish hens.
Debone the pigeon then marinade in marsala wine, garlic and thyme for one hour.
Clean and fry the chanterelles.
Seal the pigeon on both sides, add the bruschetta and pancetta and bake in the oven for 4 minutes.
Remove from the oven then cook the pigeon on top of the bruschetta for a further 3 minutes.
Blanch the Swiss chard.
Slice the pigeon and assemble the dish. Use the marinade to make a sauce and serve.
While Marsala is an undeniably distinct ingredient, it by no means has the culinary wine market cornered. One versatile and well-known dish, coq-au-vin, does its name justice by using a wide range of wines, which vary from region to region: Riesling in Alsace, red Burgundy in the wine’s namesake region, and vin jaune in the Jura area, to give a few examples. But why stick with just one type of wine? If you are of the 'more is more' persuasion, you might like this recipe for beef rolls with a wine sauce that has both red and white Port wine, as well as an additional dosage of red.
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