Rich and Robust Marsala

Posted on: Monday, February 9, 2015

While writing my art history thesis in college, I became fascinated by color's influence on every aspect of life, and today often refer to Pantone Inc. as the leading authority in communicating color. Annually, the Pantone Color Institute announces the “Color of the Year,” a hue selected to represent the year’s global spirit in design. This year, I was thrilled to hear Marsala was selected not only because I adore the wonderful deep hue, but because I also associate it with cooking.

Marsala is a reddish maroon shade that creates a rich and elegant statement. Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute explains that “Marsala enriches our mind, body and soul, exuding confidence and stability." Like the robust, earthy Sicilian fortified wine, the hue has an organic warmth and sophistication on its own or when paired with other colors. I cook with Marsala wine frequently in the winter months usually in the form of a velvety sauce alongside earthy mushrooms, chicken and pasta.

Like Kara, I recently added twin mini Staub cocottes to my culinary supply collection, so decided to create a Marsala dish in each one as an ode to the Color of the Year. I added Marsala to a sautee of mushrooms, shallots and thyme with pulled chicken, a duo of creamy cheeses and Gemelli pasta all baked and bubbling in the little pots. With Valentine’s Day next weekend, these rich and cozy baked cocottes would create quite the memorable dinner for your beau. I encourage you to find a Marsala-hued table cloth and some gold accents to set the scene too!
Marsala Mushroom, Chicken and Gemelli Mini Cocottes

4 mini Staub cocotte pots
1/2 lb Gemelli pasta
2 T unsalted butter
1 lb wild mushrooms, chopped
1 shallot, minced
1/3 c Marsala wine
1/3 c chicken broth
1 c cooked rotisserie chicken, shredded
1 t fresh thyme
2 c Fontina cheese, grated
3/4 c Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
3 T fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
salt and pepper throughout

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside

Meanwhile, heat a sautee pan to medium high. Add 1 T EVOO and 1 T butter. Once butter is melted, add the mushrooms and shallot and sautee for 4-5 minutes until the mushrooms are browned a bit. After 1 minute, lower to medium heat and pour in the Marsala. Allow the liquid to boil down for a few seconds while scraping down the sides of the pan with a wooden spoon until almost evaporated. After 1 minute, gradually stir in the broth with a pinch of salt and pepper. After another minute add 1 T butter and allow the sauce to simmer for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the cooked chicken and thyme and turn off the heat. Add the pasta to the pan plus the 1 ½ cups Fontina, ½ cup Parmigiano Reggianoo, 1 T chopped fresh parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Stir all of the ingredients together and evenly spoon into the 4 mini cocottes. Sprinkle the remaining Fontina and Parmigiano Reggiano evenly on top of each pot. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until bubbling and slightly golden on top. Sprinkle the remaining parsley on top of each pot and serve. Serves 4.
Find our more about the fascinating Color of the Year selection process here:


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