Most nights I’m just cooking for Grant and me, so I’m ahead of the game when it comes to dinners for two, romantic or otherwise. Simple dinner’s for two are nice because everything fits in a cast iron skillet, and it takes just a few minutes to prep and cook. We eat at 6:30 and honestly most nights I don’t get into the kitchen until around 6. Since we watch the nightly news with dinner (not so romantic, I know) I have to get things organized by 6:30 or we’ll miss something huge, I just know it.
There is 1 pan, and 3 stages to this recipe — first the chicken thighs get browned over a high heat to kick start the cooking and give them a nice golden color. Then the shallots, garlic and mushroom saute, and finally you’ll make the sauce right in the same pan and add back the chicken for a final few minutes of cooking in the oven. You can also finish if off on the stove if you like.
Marsala sauce is an easy way to give instant elegance to dinner. I’ve said this a lot before, but the combination of shallots, mushrooms, garlic, cream, and Marsala wine (you can also use a dry Sherry) gives instant fancy restaurant appeal to the most basic chicken. Marsala is a fortified wine, which just means that is has a higher alcohol content than regular wine. It’s used in chicken dishes like this, and in risottos and even tiramisus. You’ll recognize the flavor instantly. Add fresh thyme and you will get rave reviews, no question.
What You Will Need
- 4 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
- olive oil
- 1 lb small mushrooms, I used a combination of white button and brown cremini
- 3 Tbsp butter, divided
- 2 large shallots, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- handful of fresh thyme sprigs
- 1/2 cup Marsala wine (or dry Sherry)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- fresh parsley
- fresh thyme
- Set oven to 375F
- Wipe the mushrooms with a damp cloth. Cut off the ends of the stems, and slice them, rather thickly. You can simply cut small mushrooms in half.
- Heat a heavy skillet over medium high heat until quite hot. Brush the skin side of the thighs with a little olive oil and, when the pan is good and hot, but not smoking, brown the thighs, skin down, for about 5 minutes or until they have a nice brown color. Remove them to a plate.
- Wipe out any burnt bits and add 2 Tbsp of the butter to the pan. Saute the garlic and the shallots for about 5 minutes, stirring often and being careful not to let the garlic burn. Add the mushrooms to the pan and saute for another 5 minutes, stirring often, until they start to shrink and brown.
- Add the wine to the pan and turn up the heat and let it reduce down a bit.
- Add the cream to the pan and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper and finish the sauce by stirring in the last bit of butter.
- Nestle the chicken thighs back into the pan, spooning the sauce over them a bit as well.
- Bake the thighs for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through.
- Serve hot with a sprinkle of fresh parsley.