Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Lightened Up Chicken Marsala Casserole

I am just going to say this and get it out there. My mom makes the best chicken marsala. Ever. I don't know how she does it, but she just does. It's not fried, it's not overly battered, it's just light and so so delicious. I've tried to make her version several times and although it turns out well, it's not "mom good". You know what I mean? I either put too much marsala or not enough. Or, I didn't let it simmer long enough because it always turns out more soupy than hers. Not that that's a bad thing - that's what the brown rice is there for. To sop up all those fabulous mushroom, chicken and garlic juices. It's just not the same. Hers is better. Way better. Maybe someday I'll get it right. A girl can dream, right?

One day I was searching Pinterest for some new recipes and this chicken marsala casserole caught my eye. I knew I loved chicken marsala and I love how quick and easy casseroles are, so I knew I had to try it! This dish is a Rachael Ray original and as much as I love her and her cooking, I wanted to lighten this baby up and still make it taste just as good. Her original recipe calls for heavy cream and butter, so I decided to ditch the butter and replace it with olive oil (who will ever know?!), use fat free half and half instead of heavy cream and swapped the white rice for brown rice. These few little changes make this yummy dish only 230 calories a serving, with 5 grams of fat and 16 grams of protein. And these are not little itty bitty servings either. There are eight servings in a 9x13 pan, not a 9x9 (don't you just hate when there are 16 servings in a 9x9?! I do!). Now that is a hearty serving size I can live with!

This marsala goodness could not be easier to whip up. If you are in a pinch, you can use a rotisserie chicken, but I like to cook up my own chicken breasts. In fact, if you were really savvy, you could cook up a bunch and then keep them in the freezer for a quick grab and go when you want to make something with chopped or shredded chicken. Let's just say, I'm not that savvy. I just thew the chicken breasts in the oven with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and let them cook while I prepared the rest of the dish. By the time you get the mushrooms cooked down in the marsala and all the other deliciousness, the chicken breasts are ready to come out, be chopped up and thrown into the mix. Once everything is ready, pour the sauce over the chicken and rice and bake. That's it! Super easy, super delicious and totally low calorie. Nothing pairs better with this dish than a big salad and a glass of white wine. Now that's a dinner!

pre-sliced mushrooms are the way to go

onions + garlic = love

hello brown rice

close up of the "gravy"

add in the chicken broth

pour the sauce over the rice and chicken

cooked and ready to enjoy. yum!

Lightened Up Chicken Marsala Casserole (slightly adapted from Rachael Ray)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced 

5 garlic cloves, minced 
16 ounces mushrooms, sliced (I used crimini, but use button if you like them!)
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup marsala wine (or white wine)
1/2 cup fat free half & half (low fat milk will work here too)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or stock

1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup brown rice, uncooked
2 packed cups coarsely chopped cooked chicken

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium-high heat until just melted. Add the onions and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 - 7 minutes. Add the garlic and season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle the flour on top and stir in for 1 minute. Stir in the marsala and cream and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in 2 cups of broth/stock. 

Spray a 9-inch-by-13-inch casserole with non-stick spray and spread the rice in an even layer. Top with the chicken, pour the mushroom gravy on top and sprinkle the parsley over everything.Cover tightly with foil and bake until bubbly, about 45 minutes. If your rice still is not cooked at this point, turn the oven up to 400 and bake until rice is fully cooked. Remember, brown rice takes longer to cook (if you use white rice, cook the whole dish at 350 degrees for 35 minutes). Discard the foil, sprinkle the parmesan on top and bake for 5 minutes more. 

Casseroles are no longer a thing of the past!



  1. Thank you for blogging this recipe. I made it the other night. It was delicious, much more flavorful than the original recipe!

  2. How'd you cook the chicken breasts in the oven? I'm always looking for an easier way to get those babies cooked!

  3. You said to use butter to heat in the pan but you didnt say how much butter to use?

  4. how much butter do we use?? it's not on the list of ingredients. looks great though!

  5. Thanks for the wonderful recipe, my family love it! Took nearly 45 minutes to bake before the long grain rice cooked enough for the cheese to be added.

  6. I'm pretty sure there's no such thing as fat free half and half but this looks delicious!

  7. How much butter to fry onions and mushrooms?

  8. Next time I make this, I will cook the rice ahead of time. I found not all the sauce got down to the rice, so some of it was still crunchy, even after 45 minutes.

    1. I find brown rice takes a long while to cook. Maybe soaking it would help? Or just cook halfway? It would seem that if you cooked it first, it would be overcooked.

    2. I find brown rice takes a long while to cook. Maybe soaking it would help? Or just cook halfway? It would seem that if you cooked it first, it would be overcooked.

  9. Made this dish for supper last night.....soooo good!! The family want's to know when we are having it again. Used about two table spoons of butter with the oil. also used white rice instead of brown...35 minutes and the rice was done.

  10. Tx u for this wonderful recipe. I changed it up and used 1 1/4 cup marsala, boiling for two minutes. I mixed everything together. Except the chicken and baked until the rice was almost done and stirred in the chicken to finish baking.

  11. This recipe is exactly what I've been looking for, a little elegant that can feed a crowd for my granddaughter's Christening brunch...any tips on make ahead

  12. This recipe is exactly what I've been looking for, a little elegant that can feed a crowd for my granddaughter's Christening brunch...any tips on make ahead

  13. I skipped the rice and served it over linguine. It was awesome!

  14. This was perfect on a chilly rainy day! I used white rice, and sauteed the chicken in olive oil and cajun seasoning. Otherwise no changes. Will be making this again soon!
    And just a note for anyone who is unable to find Marsala in the wine section of their grocery store. If there is a liquor within the grocery store....that's where it is!

  15. Made this tonight following the recipe exactly. Was very runny. The rice was non-existent. Next time I will cut down on the chicken stock and double the rice. Taste was good!

  16. Can you use brown minute rice?

  17. Yes you could, it will just cook faster, so check after 35 minutes

  18. Can you make this ahead of time and leave in fridge and bake that evening?