Steak Marsala – Would Julia Child Approve?

My husband got me some fabulous books for Christmas. Volume 1 & 2 of Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child and a photography reference book to help me with my pictures.  The photography book is a great refresher for me and gives me a better idea of what I need to explore more thoroughly.  And the cookbooks are wonderful.  There are several recipes I want to try.

A few nights ago my son had a friend over who enjoys good food so I thought I’d make the garlic soup from the books.  Needless to say despite following the recipe I didn’t like it.  More on another post about that adventure but I had to quickly come up with plan B!  Fortunately we had bought the ingredients for another meal so I went with that instead.

The inspiration came from Julia Child and her recipe for Filet Steaks with Mushroom and Madeira Sauce.   I couldn’t find Madeira wine and I made a few other changes.  This meal has lovely deep flavours but is easy to put together.  We don’t eat large portions, in fact one person commented on a dish I made saying it was a delicious starter!  So I only bought about a pound of steak filet for 5 of us.  I also did up roast potatoes, parsnips, and carrots.

Mince half of a large shallot or a whole small one and slice several mushrooms.  As I was prepping the meal I played around with settings on my camera.  This shot was using the P setting.  Came out very different from what I was expecting!

Steak marsala 1 2013

Then I switched back to regular settings:

Steak marsala 2 2013

In a saute pan melt 2T of butter with 1T of olive oil.  Saute the mushrooms for a few minutes until they start to brown then add the shallots to soften.  At this point I started deviating from the recipe and added some fresh thyme to the dish.

Steak marsala 3 2013

Once the mushrooms are browned and the shallots are softened remove from the heat and set aside.  In a skillet melt a few more T of butter and a T of olive oil.  You want this to get hot without burning the butter so pay attention to the colour of the butter.  Season the steak with salt and pepper then pan sear for a few minutes on each side until you have the doneness you are looking for.  We prefer ours medium rare.

Steak marsala 4 2013

Remove and cover to rest.  Pour out about half the fat.  Again deviating from the recipe I added a cup of veg bouillon to deglaze and set that to simmer.  Add a spoonful of tomato paste and begin to reduce a bit.  Because I wanted enough to go on the steak plus the roast veg I didn’t reduce down to the couple of tablespoons that it called for.  I reduced it about a third.

Steak marsala 5 2013

Add the mushroom mixture and a third of a cup of marsala wine.  Simmer and reduce again.  Slice the steak and spoon the sauce with mushrooms over the steak.

Steak marsala 7 2013

The sauce was rich and layered in flavour.  My son, who’s not a fan of mushrooms, enjoyed it as well.

Steak marsala 8 2013

Thank goodness for plan B and here’s hoping Julia Child wouldn’t mind.  🙂


Chicken Marsala

I love mushrooms.  Just not raw.  Fortunately there are an endless number of recipes out there.  It was just Rich and I last night for dinner so I thought I would do Chicken Marsala and Roast Potatoes.  I had to go buy Marsala wine and I couldn’t find it.  I was looking in the wine section because if you don’t want to drink plonk you don’t want to cook with plonk! But I had to ask.  The two young guys thought I wanted to use cooking wine so they thought they needed to set me straight!  Took a moment to get through to them that I wanted the good stuff.  They were really nice about it but they were trying to convert a convert!

The inspiration this time was from

I used regular white button mushrooms as that is what I had on hand but I usually like to use shitake mushrooms for something like this.

The recipe called for pounding out the chicken.  I don’t do this as a general rule as I find you can end up with dry chicken.  I took one breast and sliced it in half lengthwise for two small pieces and added salt and pepper before dredging it in flour.

These are potatoes from our garden and they are delicious!  A trick I learned from my mum is to microwave the potatoes prior to roasting or baking them.  Cuts the cooking time significantly and you don’t notice they have been microwaved.  Depending on the quantity I microwave the potatoes 6-9 minutes.  I do them in our toaster oven and I put the temp at 450F. This time I roasted them in olive oil and salt and pepper.  Don’t get me wrong I love them roasted in lard or shortening but it’s not as healthy!

Per the recipe suggestion I used oregano from our garden.  This is such an easy recipe and takes less than 20 minutes to through together.  The potatoes can take longer depending on how browned you want them.