I love mushrooms, which is why Chicken Marsala is a dish that I just love. The savory mushroom sauce is packed with Italian flavors, with a little sweetness from the marsala wine; however, I gave the dish a Whole30 makeover, so the sweetness in my dish comes from a little balsamic vinegar. Quite frankly, it turned out heavenly, and you should put this on your dinner rotation!
Marsala is a traditional Italian Scallopini dish, which is thinly sliced meat (typically veal or chicken) dredged in flour then simmered and reduced in a delicious sauce. For me, when making these scallopini-style dishes but trying to keep them paleo/whole30 friendly, I always use Bob’s Red Mill Arrowroot Starch. If you follow my blog you see it in a ton of my dishes, so let’s talk about what it is, why I use it, and how to cook with it:
What is Arrowroot? Arrowroot powder is a starchy substance that’s extracted from the root of a tropical plant known as Maranta arundinacea. Unlike Cornstarch, arrowroot powder is extracted using a simpler method, without the use of high heat or harsh chemicals. Some call it Arrowroot Starch, some call it Arrowroot flour– it’s all the same thing! It’s a white powdery starch that is naturally gluten-free, grain-free, paleo and Whole30 friendly. However, beware some lower quality arrowroot powder blends may also contain potato starch, which is why I always buy Bob’s Red Mill brand.
How do I cook with Arrowroot? Arrowroot is more similar to cornstarch in cooking than it is flour. Similarly to corn starch, arrowroot is excellent for thickening soups, sauces, and gravies. I always use it instead of cornstarch or flour in my Whole30 recipes. I honestly favor arrowroot to cornstarch these days because arrowroot is flavorless and clear, whereas cornstarch has a slight taste and can leave food looking a little cloudy. It’s so great for making delicious, saucy stir fries like my Mongolian Beef Recipe here, and I even use it to make a thick and delicious Whole30 Gumbo here.
Many of you complain about how it can get “slimy” when you cook with it, and it’s true it can! So here is how to avoid that. First off, Arrowroot powder is twice the thickening power of flour so a little goes a long way. When dredging your chicken, like in this recipe here, don’t cake it on. Just gently dip both sides into the arrowroot so they are just lightly coated. Secondly, when you get to making the sauce part, it thickens up sauces like a boss. So, if your sauce is looking too thick, it could likely start to get slimy since arrowroot is more powerful. Add more broth to thin out your sauce, reduce your heat to low, and just let it simmer for a bit to get back to a normal, gravy-like texture. Overheating arrowroot powder can cause it to break down, resulting in a thinner sauce. So keep that in mind if your sauce gets too thick! But, if your sauce is just right, you want to serve it right away.
One last tip for cooking with arrowroot. Again, like cornstarch, when adding it to liquid you should always make a “slurry” first. A slurry is equal parts room-temperature liquid and arrowroot starch whisked together before adding it into hot liquid. If you don’t do this and add the arrowroot directly to a hot liquid the starch molecules swell immediately and form clumps before it is able to be evenly mixed into the liquid. So slurry it up first, y’all.
I highly recommend you all replace your cornstarch in your kitchens with my trusty old friend, Arrowroot. And if you have any more questions regarding Arrowroot Starch, feel free to ask me in the comments below! Enjoy this fantastic Marsala recipe in the meantime! It’s a good one.
- 4 Chicken Cutlets (or 4 chicken breasts, butterflied)
- kosher salt, to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill Arrowroot Starch
- 2-4 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tbsp. ghee
- 2 shallots, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
- 8oz. sliced mushrooms (button, cremini, or baby bella)
- a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional, or more to taste)
- 3/4 cup -1 cup of chicken broth
- 1 tbsp. balsamic or sherry vinegar
- 1/2 cup canned, unsweetened coconut milk- blended so that it is smooth and no longer separated
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
- Place chicken cutlets on a cutting board. Cover with parchment paper and, using a meat mallet or a rolling pin, pound the chicken until its about 1/4 inch thin.
- Discard the parchment paper. Cut the chicken cutlets down the center so that they are now two, thinly sliced separate pieces of chicken. You can keep them connected if you prefer, It won't make a difference.
- Season the chicken on both sides with kosher salt and black pepper, to taste.
- Place 1/4 cup arrowroot on a plate or wide bowl. Dredge the chicken cutlets so that they are just lightly coated on all sides. You don't have to use all of the arrowroot-- you just want the chicken lightly coated. Set aside on a plate.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tbsp. olive oil and swirl the pan so the bottom is coated in the oil.
- Sear the chicken (you may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your skillet), until lightly golden brown on both sides, about 3-4 minutes a side. After both sides are browned remove from skillet and set aside on a plate. (it doesn't necessarily have to be completely cooked through yet, it will continue to cook in the sauce later). If you are working in batches, you will likely need to add more olive oil in between to ensure the skillet isn't too dry.
- When all of your chicken is browned, reduce heat to medium. Add ghee and let melt, then add the shallots, garlic, and sliced mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes (if using). Saute until mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, vinegar, and the juice of the lemon. Stir to combine and the reduce heat so that the sauce is just simmering.
- Nestle the chicken back into the sauce and let simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until the sauce thickens and the chicken is completely cooked through. If your sauce is too thick, add 1/4 cup of chicken broth more to thin it out to desired consistency.
- Top with parsley and serve! Serve with zucchini noodles to keep it whole30 approved, or try serving with brown rice gluten free pasta for a healthier pasta dish.