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Chicken Florentine, where have you been all my life?

March 4, 2008

Chicken Florentine

Who would have thought that the simple combination of spinach, chicken, and cream could create such a glorious dinner? Well, the Italians, obviously, because they are good at that kind of thing. I’m just baffled that it took me so long to realize it. I mean, I love spinach, I love chicken, and I am a sucker for anything in a cream sauce. How has this dish never graced my kitchen? And when can I have it again? It is truly a perfect combination of flavors and textures and all those other things that make food, you know, good. Er. Yes.

I saw the recipe in Giada’s Family Dinners about two weeks ago and it stuck in my head, floating around, taunting me. “You love spinach. You want to cook me!” But I’m a grad student, see, and I don’t have time to be at the beck and call of whatever recipes decide to tempt me. I had to eat frozen veggie burgers (don’t worry, I heat them up first) and macaroni and cheese and pre-made gnocchi from Trader Joe’s while this recipe enticed me and beckoned to my nonexistent free time. Well, finally last night I had some free time. And I only wish I’d made the time earlier, because this is one of my new favorites.

It’s not particularly difficult or time consuming, but it does require a lot of dishes and some dexterity with the timing. I was a little worried about my sauce, and feared I undercooked my pasta and definitely feared I undercooked my chicken, because I have problems with that. But I should not have worried because everything came together in the end in a medley of awesome. Yeah, I just said medley of awesome.

Messy fork in the florentine

Chicken Florentine also has the benefit of making you feel both indulgent and virtuous. You’re eating spinach, so clearly, totally healthy. You’re eating spinach in rich, garlicky cream sauce. Um, very indulgent. In fact, I think it made me feel so indulgent that I decided to forget about my reading, polish off the bottle of sauvignon blanc I used in the sauce, and watch “All That Heaven Allows” instead. Apparently, I forgot I am a grad student and can’t be doing those things on Monday nights anymore.

Crazy Indulgent Chicken Florentine

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or are they chicken breast halves?)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 4 T. unsalted butter
  • 1 large shallot, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 c. white wine (I used a pretty lovely Chilean Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 1 c. heavy cream (oh yeah)
  • 1/4 c. parsley, chopped (I used maybe a little more, and definitely a lot more than Giada suggested. Because cripes, you can only buy parsley in huge bundles and it seemed silly to only use a tablespoon.)
  • 1 10-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained (fresh would probably be good, too)

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper, and dredge it in the flour, shaking off any excess. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat, and once it is melted and has stopped being quite so foamy, add the chicken to the skillet.

Dredged chicken

Cook the chicken for about five minutes on each side, or maybe a bit longer if you have thicker pieces, like I did. You might worry about burning butter and drying out the chicken, but don’t stress out, it will turn out just fine. Just let that chicken cook through for about 10 to 12 minutes. When it’s done, remove the chicken from the skillet to a platter and cover it to keep it warm.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a smaller skillet, and add the spinach. Just let it cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, while you finish up the sauce. Add some salt and pepper to taste, and maybe some nutmeg if you’re feeling crazy.

In the chickeny skillet, add another tablespoon of butter or some olive oil, and once it’s hot and/or melted, add the shallots and garlic. Let them cook, stirring occasionally, for about three minutes, or until the shallots start to soften and become a little translucent. Then deglaze the pan with the white wine. Turn the heat up a bit and let the wine and shallots cook down until the liquid is reduced by about half. Then add the heavy cream, and whisk everything together. Let it continue to cook until the cream is thickened and the mixture has again reduced, probably about three or four minutes. Stir in the parsley, and a bit more salt and pepper to taste, and then return the chicken to the sauce skillet, turning the pieces so they get nice and coated. Just let them cook in the sauce for a few minutes while you finish up the spinach and (if you’re making it) drain the pasta.

Serve the chicken on top of a bed of beauteous spinach and pasta, and top it all with the saucy sauce. And marvel over the fact that eating spinach can feel decadent.

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20 Comments leave one →
  1. March 8, 2008 6:47 pm

    I love chicken florentine and use this recipe a lot. You can’t beat it and my family loves it. Your pics are making me hungry for it and I think we will have it for dinner this week. Great post

  2. March 10, 2008 5:02 pm

    That does look very indulgent! We bought a really big bunch of spinach last week and, like you, we’ve been experimenting with spinach in new dishes. So far we’ve had it in an Indian fish curry, and last night we made a roast pumpkin, spinach and chickpea risotto. We’ve still got some spinach left, so I think we’ll have to try this recipe out:)

  3. Bette permalink
    May 1, 2008 5:19 pm

    Hi
    I made this tonight. Really needed some comfort food. A friend called in the middle of the sauce making. The sauce separated a little when I added the cream, but you know what? It was grand.
    Thanks.

  4. jane Taylor King permalink
    October 17, 2008 4:59 pm

    gre

  5. Carlin permalink
    December 1, 2008 3:51 pm

    Recipe and pictures look delicious! I’m under 21, what are some possible substitutions for the white wine? Please email!

  6. December 7, 2008 12:52 pm

    You can substitute chicken stock for the white wine–it does the same job of deglazing the pan, and will reduce like wine and thicken in the sauce. Good luck!

  7. Brooklyn Dinner Party permalink
    December 19, 2008 2:12 pm

    I just made this incredibly delicious but fattening dish for my girlfriend. We ate and then I passed out because it put me into a coma of richness and heaviness that I rarely feel. Now, I’m not saying that it wasn’t enjoyable, but it was a treat I don’t usually have on occasions other than holidays. Neither of us even dream of putting heavy cream into our food, much less a whole 8 ounces, as the recipe called for, but what the L…I went for it rather than watering it down with some chicken stock.

    You must make this. Add more wine or stock than what the recipe calls for, and definitely try fresh spinach (a big fresh bag) that’s thoroughly drained, of course, first. In fact, I would just add the spinach a the end, rather than saute it in butter first in a separate pan. The extra calories and effort are completely unnecessary.

  8. April 6, 2009 9:39 am

    I sometimes use apple juice in place of white wine in recipes if I don’t have any wine on hand. Sounds weird, I know, but it adds a little bit of similar flavor and works like a charm.

  9. Daddy` permalink
    June 8, 2009 7:45 pm

    This is so good my wife gives me sex every time I make it!=)

  10. Michelle permalink
    October 31, 2009 3:34 pm

    I actually found this page while looking for this recipe! My daughter and I had shared a plate of this at a restaurant and were both in heaven. Their version did not have a cream sauce, however. Since I am on a diet, this is a concern for me. How could I alter this recipe as a cream-free version?

    • November 2, 2009 3:34 pm

      Hm. If you’re on a diet this is probably not the recipe for you. However, I’m a firm believer that diets aren’t that awesome anyway, and if you eat well most of the time, the occasionally indulgence is perfectly fine.

      I’ve never heard of Chicken Florentine without the cream sauce but you could try it with a lighter chicken stock and white wine sauce. Follow the cooking directions as is, but use chicken stock instead of cream, and let it reduce by about half or three-quarters. It will form a sauce that’s thick enough to coat the chicken, spinach, and pasta, but won’t be quite as heavy as cream.

  11. Brittany permalink
    November 4, 2009 10:03 pm

    possibly one of the most awesome recipes ever!

    pro: very easy and very delicious!
    con: lots of dishes (but very worth it!!!!!)

  12. Rowan permalink
    July 2, 2010 3:49 pm

    Nom! I am glad I found your blog (found it searching for this). This was a delicious dish, and you make it very easy to follow. Happy bellies all around!

    • July 3, 2010 7:46 am

      I’m glad you liked it! This is one of my favorite recipes.

  13. December 19, 2010 6:18 am

    I had some chicken in my freezer and looked through a copy of a local restaurant’s take home menu for ideas and remembered how good the Chicken Florentine was when I had it there. So I did a search and found your recipe which showed how easy it was to make. Only thing I may change is the spinach to collard greens since I have some left over. Hey it’s not really “Florentine” then but should taste just as good since collards and spinach are both greens and I’m sure the sauce will blend the whole dish together.

    • December 19, 2010 8:55 am

      I love the idea of using other greens in this dish! Thanks for sharing.

Trackbacks

  1. Cauliflower Broccoli Flan with Spinach Bechamel « The Kitchen Illiterate
  2. Columbus Foodie » Blog Archive » March 2008 Roundup
  3. Chicken Florentine Recipe « The Monkey Represents Sharing

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