Tag Archives: Marsala

Our Readers are the Best! v 2 – Marsala Sauce

A few weeks ago, I did a recipe for Turkey Marsala. A day or so later, I recieved and e-mail from Hayley, asking me how one could go about making the sauce a little more lighter and a little less buttery.

I told her I wasn’t sure that butter could be effectively replaced, especially the second time it’s added to the sauce.

Hayley, showing herself to be a far better investigative food reporter than myself, took it as a challenge to find an answer. This is what she later sent to me:

Hi again Kate,

Well, I did some experimenting, and it was much as you said. I tried once with the orginal butter-only, and that was quite delish. :) I tried again with olive oil only… and, well, markedly inferior. I am a sort of olive oil snob, and I used good stuff too, but it just
doesn’t quite have the same mellow nuttiness. The closest way I can think to describe the difference is that you get a plesantly “browned” flavor with the butter, but with the oil, well, it tastes still “green” if that makes any sense. I think part of it lies in
that a good extra virgin seems to me to have a “brightness” that I can only guess comes from acidity, and it just clashes with the marsala. It’s all wrong. Butter is mellow with the marasla so it work. And it is quite a bit thinner. In the case of the olive oil, I made up a batch of jasmine rice and had it all smothered over, so in truth I didn’t mind too much that the sauce was a good bit runnier than the orginal version. I did reserve a bit and try thickening it, but I can taste the corn starch (I know they say you’re not supposed
to be able to, but I do), and it ruins it in my opinion. Maybe arrow root would be better, but I didn’t have any on hand.

However, lastly I tried the “hybrid” version. I swapped out my favorite extra virgin for a late-press light olive oil and used that for the browning because it has a much milder flavor. Then, for the sauce, I went for the butter. I got pretty much the same nutty
mellow point against the marsala of the all-butter version. It was slightly thicker in the original, but truely if I hadn’t tasted the original I would not have thought ti would be much of a difference having tried it this way. I think the trick is keeping the butter at
the end, and using a lighter olive oil. Seems a nice compromise — nearly all the flavor for half the animal fat! Still a tidge runny, but I plated it over jasmine rice again and found it delightful as is.


For those of you who simply glossed over thios post, Hayley’s point was this: The recuipe used in the Turkey Marsala post is good, but if you wanted to lose a bit of the fat caused by all the butter, you can use this recipe:

  • 3 Tablespoons late-press light olive oil
  • 16-20 leaves of fresh sage
  • 1 cup Marsala wine
  • 4 Tablespoons butter (salted)
  • salt and pepper to taste