Friday, October 17, 2008

Recipe: Chicken Tomato-Marsala (for the bats)

This is a handy little recipe. It's preparation is easy and the result is very tasty. It's impressive even! Sometimes I have stories that I like to write about my recipes and this one was a little tough in coming. So, I'd like to break format a little here and offer this recipe as a dedication.

I'd like to dedicate this recipe to our much-maligned, night-flapping brethren of the skies: the bats.

I like bats. I always have. I even kept one as a "pet" for a few days when an uncle had rescued him from a public building he worked at. The management had tried to have a laborer dispatch it before my uncle arrived with his good farmer's sense and decided to save it. The injured little brown guy eventually settled down, healed and I released him one evening into the night sky.

Literature, television and the movies have given bats a bad reputation and many people react to them out of fear. While all wild animals shouldn't be handled unnecessarily, and they should all be treated with respect and caution. Ungrounded fear isn't intelligent or healthy and can cause both man and beast some grief.

Most species of bats are also beneficial. Did you know that one single little brown bat (the kind found most frequently in my area) can catch and eat more than 1,200 mosquitoes in an hour! Multiply that by a number of bats then by a number of hours over the course of days and weeks and then months and you have an impressive amount of mosquitoes -- GONE!

Did you also know that:

Mosquitoes infect 500 million people around the world each year with diseases such as West Nile virus, Dengue fever, encephalitis and malaria. That is half a billion people folks! 1/12 of the human population of the planet. One in 12 people! Mosquito-induced diseases also kill more than 2 million people around the world each year. Yeah, bats are good.

So please respect our little flying fuzzy friends of the night skies! Also, if you find that they've made a home in your attic, please investigate non-lethal ways of getting them to leave. We've made enough of a mess of our planet without making the way for beneficial animals any harder than we need to. Yeah, I'm a tree hugger WHAT OF IT? Also, I don't know about you, but I'd rather have more bats than mosquitoes.

This dish is great over rice or pasta. It is kind of one of those fancy-tasting things that really isn't all that hard to prepare. I suggest you use a marsala wine that you like the taste of. Sample a few, their all pretty good and the one you like to drink is certainly going to be one of the ones that make a great sauce. I chose an inexpensive Taylor marsala and coupled with the diced tomatoes it had a really subtle cherry flavor-EXCELLENT!

Chicken Tomato-Marsala (for the bats)

2 boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup flour
salt & black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbs unsalted butter
2-3 cups of Marsala wine
1 4 oz. can of tomato sauce
1-2 medium fresh tomatoes (diced)

Rinse and dry the chicken breasts. Place them one at a time in a large ziplock bag and GENTLY pound them about a 1/2" flat with the flat side of a meat tenderizing mallet. Glancing blows work best!

Dredge each breast in flour, cover them well and season with black pepper and salt, set aside.

Place a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and butter to the skillet and heat the mixture until the butter stops foaming. Do not allow butter to burn.

Place the chicken breasts in the hot oil/butter mixture and brown lightly on both sides. Do not overcook or the chicken will be dry.

When chicken is properly browned pour in the Marsala until the chicken is almost covered. Add the tomato sauce. Carefully blend the sauces around the chicken.

The sauce should already be simmering, if not, bring it to a simmer and then lower the heat until it is barely simmering. Cover and continue cooking (turning once) at a minimum simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. If the simmer picks up, lower the heat. You want this barely simmering.

Remove chicken breasts, add the diced tomatoes, set heat on high and stir sauce continuously until thickened.

Test for seasoning and adjust. Replace chicken, toss to coat and serve on rice or pasta spooning on extra gravy.

Chicken Tomato-Marsala (for the bats), by Henry Krauzyk from Chop Onions, Boil Water

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