A classic, both in Elizabeth David’s day as well as today, turkey marsala isn’t at all outdated, just overlooked. It just tends to be overlooked, despite a satiating richness that belies its simplicity. It takes just 15 minutes to pull together and can easily be committed to memory—nifty traits that, let’s face it, ought never go out of style. As if that weren’t sufficient to woo you, the flavors are amenable to any season. During cooler times of year, consider a side of rice or barley. Or maybe mushrooms sautéed in butter with fresh herbs. Come spring, boiled new potatoes and some chicories or spring greens tossed with olive oil and lemon seems more than sufficient.–Renee Schettler Rossi
LC Exact Amounts [Warning! Spoiler Alert!] Note
You’ll find two approaches to this same recipe below. The one that appears at the end of this note is written rather loosely, in essay form, as Elizabeth David would want. Her wording is as spare as the ingredient list, mindful of not boring the home cook with the drudgery of specific temperatures or timing. We find it charming, albeit not altogether practical for those who prefer unerring precision. So we rewrote the recipe a second way, which you’ll probably find to be more familiar, that includes those essential details. Choose whichever version you please. Her original comes first, so as not to spoil things for those who like to engage their sense. Whichever you choose, we encourage you to follow not just the words, but your instincts.
Turkey Cutlets with Marsala
- 4 to 6 (1 1/4-pound) turkey cutlets, or 2 boneless turkey breast halves cut crosswise into 6 to 8 thick cutlets
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- A couple tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 to 6 tablespoons (2 to 3 oz) unsalted butter depending on how decadent you feel
- 1/4 cup Marsala
- 1/4 cup homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
- Flatten the cutlets or the turkey breast halves a little on a wooden board by placing them between sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and bashing them with a rolling pin or the bottom of a heavy skillet. Season the turkey on both sides with salt and pepper and dust them very lightly with the flour.
- Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat. (If the cutlets are all to be done at once, you will probably need to keep two pans going at the same time, dividing the ingredients between them. Otherwise, work in batches, wiping out the pan and using additional butter for the second batch.) Tilt the pan to coat the bottom of the skillet with butter. Reduce the heat to medium, add the turkey, and cook until golden, about 2 minutes per side, being mindful of the temperature so that the butter does not blacken or burn.
- When the turkey is nearly done, pour the Marsala over the top. After it has bubbled and melded with the butter for a few seconds, pour over the chicken stock or broth. Cook for another 2 or 3 minutes while the liquid reduces slightly. Transfer the turkey to plates and spoon the sauce over the top.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I don’t know if I’ve ever before had such an easy, super-fast, moist, and flavorful turkey dish. I never make chicken or turkey marsala because my husband doesn’t usually like it—but he loved this one. The key is in the cooking time. I added a little bit of olive oil to my butter to keep it from burning, then I set my kitchen timer for 6 minutes. After 1 minute and 45 seconds in the pan, I turned the cutlets. I waited 1 minute and 30 seconds more, then added the wine. I added the broth about 15 seconds later. I let them cook for about another 2 minutes before transferring the cutlets to each plate—just before the 6-minute timer went off. I wasn’t expecting my family to love this, so I’d made twice baked potatoes and green beans with almonds, as well. The only leftovers from the meal were the sides. This is a great easy recipe for any level of cook.
Wow—this one was a surprise. It was easy and fast to make. A perfect meal for a weeknight dinner. Even better, you can start ahead of time by adding the salt, pepper and the flour earlier. We all loved the sweet taste, the extremely moist turkey, and the almost-creamy sauce. I used practically a whole stick of butter and, after adding the marsala and stock, let it stand in medium-low heat for about 7 minutes. I believe adding capers next time would blend beautifully with the rest of the flavors.
Having cooked with chicken cutlets a number of times, my gut instincts came in handy with this brief recipe, which is written without great precision in mind, like a piece of oral history. I used 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter to cook four turkey cutlets that were about 1/2-inch thick. The butter was heated on medium-high, and it was reduced to medium as soon as all four cutlets were in the pan. I turned over the turkey after 5 minutes and cooked the other side for 2 minutes before adding the marsala wine. The turkey was perfectly done, and the sauce was fragrant and delicious (there was just enough sauce to coat each of the cutlets, and for a little drizzle). Twenty minutes is all you need to make this for dinner on a busy weeknight.
We love meat dishes with the sweetness of marsala, and these turkey cutlets were delicious! I portioned the cutlets from two boneless turkey breast halves, and they were moist and tender. I used about 6 or 7 tablespoons of flour to dust the cutlets, and 4 tablespoons of butter to sauté. I browned the cutlets on medium heat and cooked them for about 2 minutes per side, until they were lightly golden. I’ve never seen the word “amalgamated” in a recipe, but the marsala and chicken stock blended beautifully. I added an extra tablespoon of butter to the glaze for even more richness. I’ll definitely be keeping this recipe for company.
Free and easy are the way these cutlets come together. The rich sauce is great, but be sure to taste and season it well. I didn’t add enough salt, and it didn’t pop the way I’d hoped—that is, until I stirred in a tad more salt at the table. If you’re a sauce person, you may want to double the marsala and stock. I took “6 to 8 cutlets” to mean three to four cutlets per breast half, and that worked out quite nicely. If cutting the turkey breast halves yourself, remove the filet portion (if it’s there) first. That’s one cutlet on its own. The remaining breast can be cut into two or three portions before flattening. At medium heat, it took about 3 to 4 minutes per side to brown lightly, and be close to done. Then I added the marsala and turkey stock. It only took another 2 to 3 minutes for the liquid to reduce and thicken into a nice sauce.
For anyone who’s more familiar with veal marsala, this is a nice rendition of that. The sauce is definitely much more prominent against turkey than veal. The recipe is loose, which makes it kind of fun to play with. I’d definitely suggest patting the cutlets dry before seasoning so the flour doesn’t glob in different places. (This will also help with even browning.) For seasoning, I always find it easiest to mix equal parts salt and pepper in small dish, just so I know that I’m doing an even job of seasoning. The cutlets cook fast, so make sure you don’t dry them out. Otherwise, they’re delicious!
I found this to be a fairly easy recipe to follow, even though these were the barest of instructions. The cutting of the cutlets proved to be the hardest part: I purchased a 2 1/2-pound turkey breast, and cut each to a thickness of almost a 1/2-inch, ending up with enough cutlets for six or seven people. (They were very rustic-looking cutlets, since my carving skills are a little rusty.) I used my hand to flatten them a little and followed the rest of the instructions as written. I used about 1/4 pound of unsalted butter. The cutlets took about 3 minutes per side to cook. After about 6 minutes, I added the wine, followed by the stock. The results were incredible. This had to have been the tenderest turkey we’ve had in a very long time. The pan sauce was delightful with the steamed potatoes and vegetables I served as sides. The only change I’d make is to perhaps increase the amount of marsala wine to 1/2 cup. I also may try adding it after the stock is in the pan, since the only complaint my family had was that the flavour of the marsala wine was too subtle—the aroma of the wine was stronger than the taste. All in all, a very enjoyable recipe. I may even try this with chicken or pork.
Originally published May 09, 2011