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substitute for marsala?

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Hi everyone,
I love chicken and veal marsala, and want to make it at home, but I don't really want to buy a bottle of marsala just to cook with, as I understand it's not a great drinking wine and my budget is not exactly ample. Can I use just any dry white wine as a substitute, or does the marsala give the dish a specific flavor that I'll be missing without it? Thanks.

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  1. You could use a medium dry sherry unless the recipe wants a sweet marsala and then you could sub a sweeter sherry. The flavor won't be quite the same, but close.

    1. It won't be Chicken Marsala if that's what you're really looking for. If you're basically looking for sauteed chicken with mushrooms, then you can substitute any number of things including chicken stock. IMHO, sherry doesn't really taste anything like Marsala, though as long as you use something "heavier" than fino, it will at least have a similar depth of flavor. (AFAIC, if your recipe calls for sweet marsala, you need another recipe, so stick with a a dry sherry, too, unless you like chicken in sugar syrup - it will taste even sweeter after it's reduced in the pan.)

      Marsala is usually available in half bottles and since it's fortified, will keep a fairly long time in the fridge after opening, unlike unfortified wines. Freeze it in recipe-size quantities and it will keep even longer.

      1. Marsala is very inexpensive. Try some.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Amy G.

          I agree. And there's no other flavor like it. I make a marsala dish about twice a month. Have had the bottle for a year now. Needs replacing soon. But it's well worth it.

        2. I've been using sweet vermouth with chicken for about 50 years. After it cooks down, what does it matter?