Every once in a while I like to make something that feels a little fancier than normal. That's why I love our Healthy Chicken Marsala Recipe! Of course, now that I have kids, my standards for fancy have changed quite a bit. Nonetheless, I still consider a meal that I might order out on a date-night with my hubby fancy.
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What is Chicken Marsala?
Chicken Marsala is an Italian-inspired dish of chicken in a mushroom wine sauce. To make this dish, chicken is pan-fried or steamed and then smothered with a savory sauce made from cream, Marsala wine and mushrooms
WHAT MAKES OUR CHICKEN MARSALA HEALTHY?
We recognize there are more traditional ways of preparing chicken marsala. But to make the dish a tad healthier, we:
- Steam chicken, instead of flour-dredge/pan-fry
- Limit the amount of butter to 2 tbsp
- Suggest using milk or Half & Half instead of heavy cream
- Add peas- Chicken marsala doesn't traditionally call for peas, but my kids love them and I think they add a nice flavor. Two thumbs up for this fancy mid-week meal!
- Serve with raw veggies on the side
CHOOSING YOUR MARSALA WINE
We prefer a dry or semi-sweet Marsala wine for this dish to give our sauce a more savory vs sweet flavor. Of course, if you personally don't want alcohol in your food or if you're worried not enough of it will cook off appropriately for serving kids, you can use grape juice instead. The sauce is surprisingly good with grape juice. You can taste the grape flavor in the sauce, but it maintains about the same amount of sweetness as with the marsala wine. Actually the kids liked the taste. Plus, they loved knowing there was juice in their meal.
Other Healthy Chicken Dishes We Love
Notes on Ingredients:
- Consider buying chicken tenderloins- the thinner the chicken, the faster it will cook!
- We prefer dry or semi-sweet Marsala. Grape juice is an alternative if you prefer not to cook with alcohol.
- Consider using Half & Half or milk instead of heavy cream. Although heavy cream will give you a thicker, creamier sauce, milk (or half & half) will make the dish a tad lighter and won't significantly impact the sauce's flavor.
How to Make Our Healthy Chicken Marsala
STEP 1: Pound Chicken until Thin
🥄 Kids Step: Kids can pound the meat with the flat side of this cool, reversible Meat Mallet.
STEP 2: Cook Chicken
🥄 Kids Step: Use tongs to flip over chicken. Using tongs can be fun and supports the development of fine motor skills.
STEP 3: Make Marsala and Veggie Sauce
🥄 Kids Step: Measure and combine sauce ingredients. Kids like seeing how each ingredient changes the consistency of the sauce.
STEP 4: Combine Chicken and Sauce
🥄 Kids Step: Sprinkle with parmesan cheese!
Marsala is a fortified, Italian wine that is commonly used for cooking and baking. The wine can be dry (secco), semi-dry (semi-secco) or sweet (dolce).
It is best to use dry or semi-sweet Marsala wine for savory dishes (like Chicken Marsala) and reserve sweet Marsala wine for desserts.
The recipe calls for Marsala wine, which is what gives the sauce its signature flavor. If you don't have Marsala wine on hand, Sherry is an option. But Marsala wine will give you the best flavor.
Of course, if you don't want alcohol in your food or if you're worried not enough of it will cook off appropriately for serving kids, you can use grape juice instead. The sauce is surprisingly good with grape juice. You can taste the grape flavor in the sauce, but it maintains about the same amount of sweetness as with the marsala wine.
Once opened, Marsala will remain fresh, flavorful and fragrant for 4-6 months. It should be stored in a cool, dry place.
It's best to serve our Healthy Chicken Marsala with a side that can absorb the delicious Marsala sauce! We like angel hair pasta, but any pasta, rice, or side of bread will also work nicely!
MODIFY THIS DISH FOR PICKY EATERS
This meal went over best with my husband, and each of my kids liked certain parts of the ingredients, which in my mind makes it a win. Here are some ways to modify this dish for picky eaters:
- Serve peas on the side. If your kids get freaked out by sauces, consider setting aside some of the frozen peas before you add the pea bag to the sauce. You can put the peas in a small bowl with a bit of water and microwave them for a minute or so to cook. The kids can then eat them alongside their chicken. It's a win for the kids cause they don't have to eat the sauce, and a win for you cause you still get your kids to eat veggies.
- Let kids choose a side. Let kids choose if they want pasta, rice or bread with their chicken! These sides are great for absorbing any extra sauce.
CRAFT FOR THIS RECIPE
Adorable Mushroom House Craft: Check out our fun, DIY mushroom house craft! This craft is easy to make, doesn't require many supplies, and can keep the kids entertained for hours. Make more than one house and your kids can design a mushroom village!
Easy & Healthy Chicken Marsala
- Spread chicken on a cutting board or baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and pound with a Meat Mallet until chicken breasts are thin, even pieces. Sprinkle both sides of the breasts with salt & pepper.
- On medium heat, cook chicken in 1 T of cooking oil in a medium-large pan for 1 minute on each side. Reduce heat to low, cover (so pan is sealed shut), and let chicken cook for 10 minutes. Then turn off the heat and let the chicken cook, covered, 10 more minutes. Uncover and make sure chicken is no longer pink.
- Meanwhile, melt butter in a separate medium-sized pan. Add shallot and garlic, and cook for a few minutes. Then, add mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Mix flour into vegetable mixture until evenly distributed and then pour in marsala wine (or grape juice), chicken stock and peas. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add milk/cream as final step and let sauce thicken for a couple minutes on low heat.
- Add chicken to pan of sauce and simmer for a few minutes.
- Chicken tenderloins will cook faster than chicken breasts.
- Instead of rinsing mushrooms, wipe or pat them with a damp paper towel. This prevents them from absorbing too much water.
- Make sure your Marsala wine is dry or semi-sweet...not sweet.
- If you don't have Marsala wine, you can use Sherry. Grape juice is an excellent non-alcohol substitute for the wine.
- For the sauce, milk, half & half, and cream will all work. The choice is yours.