Chicken Florentine has developed a bit of a bad reputation as a bland, boring, filler food for buffets and weddings. What started out as a nice idea got muddled and mediocre somewhere along the way. So let's remedy that, shall we?
If you dissect the dish, it seems like a good idea in theory: chicken, spinach, and a creamy sauce. So with that as the backbone, Cook's Country set out to create a killer version of the classic dish.
And their version? Oh. My. Goodness. This chicken is easily one of the best things I've made all year. Joey and my kids all agreed. Juicy, perfectly cooked chicken, a cheesy, creamy, flavorful sauce, tender spinach, and more cheese to finish it all off. Major love. Allow me to take a moment to sing the praises of this sauce. It's heaven on earth, I tell you. Cream, chicken broth, a little lemon juice, and parmesan cheese make up the bulk of it, and it was so good that Joey practically drank it with a straw.
As we move into fall and winter, I'm definitely craving more homey, comforting dinners, and this is at the top of my list. Serve it with a grain or starch of your choice (mmmm mashed potatoes!), a salad or roasted veggies, and you've got a really wonderful family dinner. Joey proclaimed this to be his new favorite dinner, so I feel certain that it will be making many appearances on our table from here out!
adapted from The Complete Cook's Country TV Show Cookbook
serves 4 to 6
- 2 Tbs canola oil
- 12 oz (12 cups) baby spinach
- 4 (6-oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 6 Tbs freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- juice of 1/2 lemon
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the spinach and cook, stirring often, until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the spinach to a colander set over a blow and drain as much liquid as possible, pressing down with the back of a spoon to extract more liquid.
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season generously on both sides with salt and pepper.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the now-empty skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook 3-4 minutes per side, until golden. Remove from pan to a plate or bowl.
Add the shallots and garlic to the pan and cook about 1 minute, or until fragrant. Stir in the broth, water, and cream. Return the chicken to the pan and nestle into the liquid. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
Continue to simmer the sauce unit it's reduced to about 1 cup, which should take about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 4 tablespoons of the Parmesan, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
Preheat the broiler and adjust the oven rack to the upper-middle position.
Cut the chicken cross-wise into 1/2-inch slices and arrange on a broiler-safe platter. Scatter the spinach over the chicken, then pour the sauce over the spinach, then sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Broil until golden-brown, about 3 to 5 minutes (but watch closely the whole time, since in my experience all broilers are very different!).