A creative fusion of Italian and Irish cuisine, this Chicken Marsala Shepherd’s Pie is the ultimate comfort food.Jump to Recipe
I am especially proud of this Chicken Marsala’s Shepherd’s Pie if I’m being honest. It’s perhaps the most creative idea I’ve ever had and it’s comfort food at its finest. The base is a fairly traditional (but incredibly flavorful) chicken marsala. The topping is a luxurious parmesan mashed potato situation. This results in a pretty ideal fusion of Italian and Irish cuisine. I promise, you will be obsessed.
Ingredients for Chicken Marsala Shepherd’s Pie
Potatoes: I prefer Yukon gold (or any gold variety), as they tend to be velvety soft and creamy. Perfect for mashed potatoes!
Half and Half: I found half and half to be the happy medium between heavy cream and regular milk. The heavy cream felt a bit overpowering and the regular milk was a bit of a letdown. The half and half creates a perfect, creamy consistency for both the mashed potatoes and the Chicken Marsala.
Parmesan Cheese: Just a quarter cup to create an umami pop of flavor for those mashed potatoes.
Butter: Yes, we’re using real ass butter in this recipe because this shepherd’s pie is comfort food, baby.
Chicken Breast and All-Purpose Flour: You’re gonna dice that chicken into 1-inch pieces, toss it in some flour and salt, and sauté it in that butter. It’s gonna be a-mah-zing.
Baby Bella Mushrooms: These little guys have an earthy flavor that perfectly compliments our rich marsala sauce.
Shallots or Yellow Onion: I have tried both and prefer shallots in this recipe, but yellow onion works well too!
Garlic: When all is said and done, you will likely be using an entire head of garlic in this recipe. Plan accordingly.
Thyme: To add some herby goodness.
Chicken Broth and Marsala Wine: Our veggies will simmer in broth and wine for about 15 minutes, allowing them to become infused with flavor.
Cornstarch: Just a tablespoon to thicken our marsala sauce slightly.
Salt and Pep: To bring out the best in all our flavors.
Chicken Marsala and Shepherd’s Pie: A Brief History
I try my best to honor the culinary history of whatever dishes I make, especially if it’s a bit of an elaborate fusion situation like this one. So without further ado, here’s a brief background on the two dishes that inspired this recipe.
Chicken Marsala: Ah, the history of this dish is rather unclear. In theory, this is an Italian dish, as Marsala wine is native to Italy. However, there’s some debate about possible French influence as many French chefs sought refuge in Italy during the Napoleonic Wars in the 1800s. But it doesn’t stop there! At some point, Italians migrated to the United States and tried to recreate the dish with whatever ingredients they could find. Thus, Chicken Marsala evolved yet again to have American influence as well. Want more? Check out this explainer.
Shepherd’s Pie: Thought to have originated in Ireland in the 1700s, it began as an industrious way to use up leftovers. Lamb or mutton would be simmered in a sauce with vegetables and then baked with mashed potatoes on top. It’s a highly popular Irish dish even today. If you’re interested in learning even more, check out this explainer.
Tips for Success
- Cutting Your Chicken: Cut your chicken into 1-inch pieces and make sure they are fairly uniform in size. This will ensure there are no undercooked pieces at the end.
- Use a Sheet Pan: Sometimes the sauce bubbles up as it cooks in the oven, which can cause leakage. You can put a sheet pan on the lower oven rack to catch any sauce so clean-up is easier.
- Use Your Five Senses: Throughout this recipe, I try to provide examples of what the food should look and feel like at each phase of cooking. Pay attention to these and use your intuition! Not only will this ensure you have a bangin’ dinner, but you’ll become a better cook along the way.
I hope you find this Chicken Marsala Shepherd’s Pie as comforting as I do! If you give it a try, be sure to leave a rating and review. This helps Google figure out I exist and encourages others to give the recipe a try. You can also find me on Pinterest and Instagram. It truly makes me smile to hear from you.
More Amazing Comfort Food
- Buffalo Cauliflower Baked Pasta (Vegetarian!)
- Incredible Vegetarian French Onion Pizza
- Easy Vegan Creamy Tomato Soup (No Coconut Milk!)
- Spinach Artichoke Baked Pasta (with secret protein!)
Chicken Marsala Shepherd’s Pie
- Cutting Board
- Chef's Knife
- Large Pot
- large frying pan
- 8×8 Glass Baking Dish
For the Mashed Potatoes
- 2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes peeled and chopped into 1-2 inch cubes
- ½ cup half and half
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese
- 3 cloves garlic peeled and minced
- ¼ tsp sea salt (plus more for the water)
- freshly ground black pepper
For the Filling:
- 3 tbsp butter divided
- 1½ lbs chicken breast cut into 1-inch pieces (try to keep the pieces uniform in size so they cook evenly)
- ½ cup all-purpose flour (gluten-free if needed)
- 10 oz baby bella mushrooms chopped
- 3 medium shallots or 1 yellow onion diced
- 5 cloves garlic peeled and minced
- 2 tbsp fresh thyme finely chopped and woody stems removed
- ½ tsp sea salt divided
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup Marsala wine
- ½ cup half and half
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- Preheat oven to 375° F and grease an 8×8 glass baking dish. Set aside.
For the Mashed Potatoes:
- Place potatoes in a large pot or Dutch oven and cover with cold water, making sure there's at least one inch of water covering the potatoes. Salt the water generously.
- Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 12-15 minutes, or until potatoes are fork-tender. Drain and let them sit for about 5 minutes to dry off.
- Place potatoes back in large pot or Dutch oven and mash using a potato masher. Fold in half and half, parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper until well-combined. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
For the Filling:
- While the potatoes are boiling, coat diced chicken pieces in the flour and ¼ tsp sea salt.
- Heat 2 tbsp of butter in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add flour-coated chicken and sauté until just browned on all sides, about 8-10 minutes (the chicken will only be partially cooked at this point so no snacking!). Remove from pan and set aside.
- Add the remaining tbsp of butter and the mushrooms to the pan. Sauté for 8-10 minutes or until the mushrooms have softened and some of their liquid has released. Add shallots (or yellow onion), garlic, thyme, remaining ¼ tsp of salt, and pepper, sautéing an additional 3-5 minutes until the shallots have softened and browned slightly.
- Lower the heat to medium and add wine and chicken broth. Simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add half and half and cornstarch to a bowl or glass measuring cup and whisk until well-combined. Add this mixture to the frying pan and simmer 1-2 more minutes, or until things thicken up a bit.
- Remove from heat and stir in the chicken before transferring the mixture to the greased baking dish. Spread the mashed potatoes evenly on top and bake on the upper oven rack for 18-20 minutes. You may want to set a sheet pan on the lower oven rack to catch any sauce that escapes. Broil 2-3 minutes at the end to get the potatoes golden brown and a bit crispy. Let cool 5 minutes and ENJOY!
Photography by Hope Agresti