A big plate of creamy spinach love.
Fancy enough to serve to guests. Fast enough to make any night of the week.
Chicken, spinach, shallots, cream sauce….and it all cooks in about 30 minutes.
Here’s what you need:
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, Flour, Frozen Chopped Spinach, White Wine, Heavy Cream, Shalllot, Garlic, Butter, Olive Oil (not pictured), Salt & Pepper.
Since this dish comes together pretty quickly, it’s a good idea to have all your ingredients prepared before you start cooking. This is actually a good idea all of the time, but I don’t always have the organization and patience to do things that way.
Peel and cut one large shallot in half then slice across the shallot to make little, thin rings.
Shallots are members of the onion family but have a much milder flavor than regular onions. You can find them in the store near the onions and garlic. In my store, they are often sold in small mesh bags of 2-3 shallots.
If you can’t find large shallots, grab a couple of smaller ones and chop them up. You want about 1/4 cup of chopped shallots total.
While you’re chopping, smash, peel and chop up 2 cloves of garlic.
Season the boneless skinless chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Pour some regular old flour on a plate or shallow pan and dip or dredge the chicken breasts to coat both sides.
Once the chicken is evenly coated in flour, gently shake off any excess flour.
Melt about 1 Tablespoon each of butter and olive oil in a large pan.
The butter & olive oil combo is great for browning meats over fairly high heat. Since butter would tend to burn on it’s own, the olive oil helps allow for a higher cooking temperature. In turn, the butter gives the olive oil great flavor.
Cook the chicken in the butter/oil over medium high heat until lightly browned — about 4 minutes on each side depending on the heat of your pan.
The flour makes a nice, slightly crispy coating on the chicken and also helps thicken the sauce. Try not to poke and jostle the chicken as it cooks — just let it hang out in the pan until it is golden brown.
At this point the chicken will still be uncooked in the middle. That’s okay since it will finish cooking in the creamy sauce. Remove the chicken pieces to a plate and cover with foil to keep them warm.
Reduce the heat to medium. If you pan is looking a little dry, add 1 Tablespoon of butter and cook the shallots and garlic in the same pan that you used to cook the chicken.
Cook the shallots and garlic quickly – just for a minute or two so they don’t brown and burn – then add 1 1/2 cups of white wine.
Let the wine simmer for a few minutes while you gently scrape up all those tasty browned bits from the bottom of the pan. The wine will reduce and thicken slightly as it cooks. When the wine has reduced buy about half, add 1/2 cup heavy cream.
Put the chicken back in the pan. Pour any juices from the chicken right in there too.
Bring the sauce up to a boil and then turn the heat down to medium low to simmer. Put a lid on the pan leaving it slightly ajar (to allow the sauce to thicken) and cook the chicken for 20 minutes.
While the chicken cooks, defrost the frozen blocks of spinach in the microwave.
To do this, I put the spinach block in a large bowl and add a little bit of water. Cover it with a plate and microwave it for 3-4 minutes. Then, if you’re a patient person, allow the spinach to cool a bit so you don’t burn your fingers off. If you’re not a patient person (me), rinse the spinach in a small strainer under a cool water so you don’t burn your fingers off.
Grab a handful of spinach and squeeze it with all your might to get as much water out as possible. This leaves you with little blobs of dry spinach. Defrost and squeeze 2 (10 ounce) boxes of spinach.
Just a word about frozen spinach….I love, love, love fresh spinach and usually prefer it in most recipes. However, it would take a ton and a half of fresh spinach to make enough for this dish. As you know, when it cooks down, spinach shrinks to a fraction of its size. A whole giant pan of spinach will yield such a miniscule amount of cooked spinach that using fresh in this recipe would take a truckload of spinach. The frozen is just fine here — cheaper and quicker too.
Check back in on the chicken to be sure that it is simmering away. Turn the chicken pieces over to coat them in the sauce and continue cooking.
When the chicken is almost done, melt 1 Tablespoon of butter in a medium saute or frying pan over medium heat.
When the butter is melted and foamy, add the blobs of spinach. Use a spoon to break them apart as they heat up in the butter. Season the spinach to taste with salt and pepper and cook just to warm it through.
Remove the chicken from the sauce and crank up the heat on the sauce to high. This will bring the sauce to a rolling boil and allow it to thicken just a bit. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper to your own taste.
Serve Chicken Florentine by spreading the warm spinach on a large platter. Top with the chicken breasts…
and then pour the lovely creamy shallot sauce all over the top.
The sauce runs down into the spinach making it creamy and delicious. Heaven.
I served this with a tomato salad. It is substantial enough on it’s own to forgo a side of pasta or rice. Of course, pasta and rice would also be lovely, but there are times when I’d rather not have the extra carbs and let the butter, cream and spinach speak for themselves.
By the way, if you’re gasping at the butter and cream, I should tell you that I substantially reduced the amounts of both from the original Giada De Laurentiis recipe. I feel extra healthy about that, so I can go eat chocolate now.
Here’s the recipe: