Delia

Chicken Breasts with Wild Mushroom and Bacon Stuffing and Marsala Sauce

This is a very simple way to deal with four boneless chicken breasts. The use of wild porcini mushrooms combined with the beautifully rich flavour of Marsala wine in the sauce turns them into something quite unusual and special.


Serves 4

This recipe first appeared in The Delia Collection: Chicken.

Chicken Breasts with Wild Mushroom and Bacon Stuffing and Marsala Sauce
Ingredients
 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (each about 5 oz/150 g)
 ½ oz (10 g) dried porcini mushrooms
 6 oz (175 g) open-cap mushrooms, finely chopped
 3 oz (75 g) streaky bacon or sliced pancetta
 1 oz (25 g) butter, plus extra for greasing
 1 medium onion, finely chopped
 1 fat garlic clove, crushed
 1 heaped teaspoon chopped fresh sage leaves
 a grating of nutmeg
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the sauce:
 5 fl oz (150 ml) dry Marsala, plus about a spoonful more if it's too thick
 1 teaspoon groundnut or other flavourless oil
 1 shallot, chopped
 3 small mushrooms, finely sliced
 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage leaves
 ¾ dessertspoon plain flour
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
Equipment

You will also need four 10 inch (25.5 cm) squares of foil.

Method

First, you need to soak the porcini mushrooms, so pop them into a jug, pour 5 fl oz (150 ml) of boiling water over them and leave them to soak for 20 minutes. After that, strain them in a sieve placed over a bowl and squeeze every last bit of liquid out of them because you are going to need it for the sauce.

Now melt the butter in a good solid frying pan, finely chop the bacon or pancetta and cook half of it in the hot butter until golden and crisp, and remove to a plate. Then add the chopped onion to the pan and fry that gently for about 5 minutes to soften. While that is happening, chop the strained porcini finely and then add these to the pan, along with the garlic, sage and finely chopped open-cap mushrooms, a little nutmeg and the cooked bacon or pancetta. Stir well to get everything coated with the butter, then, as soon as the juices start to run out of the mushrooms, reduce the heat to very low and let the whole lot cook gently, without covering, until all the juices have evaporated and all you have left is a thick mushroom paste. This will take about 30 minutes in all.

After that, remove it from the heat, taste, and season well with salt and freshly milled black pepper, then allow it to get completely cold. Now take each of the chicken breasts and remove the silvery sinew from the back. Fold back the fillet, making a deeper cut if necessary, so it opens out almost like a book, then season the chicken. Next, spread a quarter of the mushroom mixture over one of the breasts, fold back the flap and roll it up lengthways like a Swiss roll. When they are all filled, lay each chicken breast on a lightly buttered piece of foil. Wrap each in its foil, folding over the ends to seal. At this stage the parcels should be chilled for at least an hour to firm up.

When you're ready to cook them, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 8, 450°F (230°C). Place the chicken parcels on a baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes. Then remove them from the oven and allow them to rest in the foil for 10 minutes before serving. While the chicken is cooking, you can make the sauce. First add the oil to the pan in which you cooked the mushroom filling, then gently fry the remaining bacon or pancetta and the shallot for about 5 minutes, then add the sliced mushrooms and chopped sage, stir and continue to cook for about 1 minute, by which time the juices of the mushrooms will begin to run.

Next, stir in the flour to soak up the juices, then gradually add the porcini soaking liquid, followed by 5 fl oz (150 ml) Marsala and give a good seasoning of salt and freshly milled black pepper. Keep stirring until it bubbles and thickens, then turn the heat down and add a spoonful more of Marsala, if you think it's too thick. Now let the sauce cook very gently for about 20 minutes. To serve, unwrap each parcel on to a plate and cut each into 4 pieces - at an angle to show the stuffing. Then pour the sauce over or around each one and serve straightaway.

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