Chicken Stew with Marsala and Porcini

I realize I’ve posted a fair number of brown stews that may all look alike, but believe me, the flavors are subtly but distinctly different in each of them.  This stew was meant to use up some very old dried porcini that I had in my pantry.  Dried porcini keep indefinitely, but get drier with age, so eventually, you’ll be able to just pulverize them and use them for porcini dust (which has its merits as well). 

This is a similar preparation as my neighbor Beppi’s Spezzatino di Pollo,  which I made a couple of weeks ago.  There are key differences, however . . . Instead of sherry, I’ve used dry Marsala, which goes wonderfully with mushrooms of all kinds.  I’ve also added bay leaves for their deep, floral flavor and aroma.  In addition, I’ve added a touch of tomato paste for sweetness and color, and diced pancetta, to add salty, porky flavor to the chicken and to heighten the general gaminess of the stew.  And of course, the dried porcini–which lend their inimitable woodsy flavor everywhere they go. 

To accompany the stew tonight, I’ve made some boiled arborio rice with a touch of butter, along with some boiled brussels sprouts and broccoli. 

 

The beauty of a moist stew is that leftovers lend themselves well to reheating or freezing.  It also keeps well in the refrigerator for at least five days. (There’s enough wine and salt in my stews to preserve just about anything!) 

Chicken Stew with Marsala and Porcini

serves 6, with leftovers

3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 oz. dried porcini, soaked in warm water for about 15 minutes, then removed and chopped coarsely

half a large onion, finely diced

6 shallots, cut in halves or quarters

1/4 c olive oil

2 oz. pancetta, diced

2 bay leaves

1 sprig rosemary

2 tbls flour

1 c dry marsala

1 c white wine

3 c chicken broth (bouillon is fine)

2 tbls tomato paste

salt and pepper to taste

1 tbl fresh chopped parsley

In a heavy-bottomed dutch oven, place onions, shallots, rosemary, pancetta and oil.  Turn heat to low and saute for about 3 minutes. 

 

Add chicken pieces and bay leaves and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Saute for another 5 minutes on medium-high heat, being careful not to burn the onions. 

Sprinkle on flour and continue sauteing for another 3 – 4 minutes, scraping the bottom and sides of pot constantly.

Add marsala and wine and turn heat to high.  Reduce for about 2 minutes (the flour will turn it into a thick sauce instantly.   Add the porcini,  broth and tomato paste and cover partially. 

 

 Simmer for about 45 minutes, stirriing from time to time.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes, to thicken, if necessary. 

 Remove bay leaves and rosemary and sprinkle with parsley.

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