Chicken Marsala with Crispy Potato Gnocchi and Sauteed Spinach

Recipes for a Cure
This saucy dish is part of a collection of recipes written to benefit the National MS Society. In 2008, my sister Lexi (then 21 years old) was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. We formed a team of friends and family called MS is BS (Mind Strong is Body Strong), and each year we raise thousands of dollars for MS research. This recipe was written in tribute to a generous donation towards my $1500 fundraising minimum for the 2013 Capital Challenge Walk, a two-day 50K walk through Maryland, Virginia and DC. Learn more about team MS is BS on our website at
In my exceedingly short time spent in the desert, I came to realize that one of the keys to my happiness was earned in the kitchen. Those times that I spent with friends close at hand, chatting about randomness, sipping some boozy concoction and performing the feat of creating some sort of culinary majesty. By the time I left, there was a cohort of folks referred to as “the usual suspects” who spent many an evening at the Gunderdome chopping, rolling, stirring and feasting. My buddy Alex (whom I knew was destined to have major cool points in that we both went to Fordham University) was one of my kitchen darlings, and this recipe was created in honor of her and her partner in crime, Josh.

Alex and Kali are all dolled up for typical shenanigans at the Gunderdome.
Alex and Kali are all dolled up for typical shenanigans at the Gunderdome.

When I offered recipes on behalf of our fundraising for the MS society, Alex told me that her favorite feast from the past two years had been when we made chicken and waffles on a week night and then watched The New Girl. A close second was the night that we prepared four kinds of homemade gnocchi, taking most of the day to prep and assemble. It left us the evening to bask in the carb-laden coma, blissfully full and happy to have a moment to kick back with friends.

I decided that for her recipe I would merge the memory of those two nights with a composite recipe of pan fried chicken and homemade gnocchi broiled with butter and parmesan cheese. Garlicky spinach and gloriously rich marsala mushroom sauce would bring the whole dish home for one last feast to celebrate our time as cooking buddies. When I left Arizona, I purposefully didn’t say goodbye, because I don’t want to think of the prospect of never having the chance to hang with them again. Instead, I say “until next time” and hope that it’s sooner rather than later 😉

Chicken Marsala with Gnocchi and Spinach

This recipe is pretty simple (especially if you are buying the gnocchi from the store) but involves a whole lot of quick cooking over high heat. Save yourself some major heartburn by prepping everything beforehand. I typically start with chicken and then right before I fry it, I prep the gnocchi for the broiler. Then I continue to cook the chicken, and keep it warm as I broil the gnocchi and saute the spinach. That way, everything comes out hot and gorgeous.

Classic Chicken Marsala with Mushrooms

Chicken Marsala with Gnocchi and Spinach2 c. of chicken stock
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup of flour seasoned with a little salt and pepper
2 lbs. of chicken tenderloins
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

12 oz. mushrooms (button or wild), trimmed and thinly sliced
1/4 tsp. of dried rosemary
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
2/3 c. of marsala wine
2 tbs. of freshly chopped parsley

We’ll start with the marsala sauce – prep a rich base by pouring the chicken stock and minced garlic into a pan and bringing it to a boil. Allow it to reduce by half.

Dredge chicken in flour and set aside. Heat up a large skillet with 2 tbs of butter and 2 tbs of olive oil. Pan sear the chicken until golden on both sides and almost cooked through. Set aside. In the same pan as the chicken, add two more tablespoons of butter. Saute the mushrooms, rosemary and black pepper until golden. Add the marsala and reduced chicken broth to the pan, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Return chicken to the pan and allow to hang out until the sauce thickens a bit. Taste for salt and reseason. Add parsley and serve.

Cripsy Potato Gnocchi with Butter and Parmesan

fresh potato gnocchi (either store-bought or homemade)
4 tbs. of melted butter
1/2 c. of parmesan cheese

In a medium skillet, melt the butter over high heat. Toss the gnocchi into the pan and cook until warmed through and slightly golden, about 2-3 minutes. Dump into a small casserole dish and top with the parmesan cheese. Broil over high heat for 1-2 minutes, or until the cheese gets all bubbly and happy.

Sauteed Spinach

2 bags of fresh spinach
6 cloves of chopped garlic
4 tbs. of olive oil
4 tbs. of butter
salt and pepper

Melt the butter and the olive oil in a very large pan or wok over high heat. Add the spinach in batches, putting in more after each handful wilts into the buttery oil. When all is wilted, stir in the garlic and allow to cook until fragrant but stil sharp, about 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper and serve as a bed for your gnocchi and chicken.

4 thoughts on “Chicken Marsala with Crispy Potato Gnocchi and Sauteed Spinach”

    1. Excellent! You’ll have to share the details on how it goes. I *adore* swiss chard so very much, and nothing beats home grown goodness. This treatment of olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper is all it needs to elevate it to the glorious place it deserves.

    1. Not a dumb question at all – it was a revelation to me the first time I found out that you could pan fry the gnocchi without a trip to the jacuzzi beforehand. The trick is that you’ll need to be working with fresh gnocchi – if you made them from scratch, or purchased them refrigerated, you can let them crisp up all lovely in the butter without any extra work. If they are frozen, you’ll want to boil them first, drain them really well, and then toast them afterwards. Woot.

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