Rethinking Chicken Florentine with clearer, brighter flavors
Chicken Florentine is a favourite featuring chicken breast and spinach in a mild cream-and-Parmesan sauce, sometimes stuffed inside, sometimes stacked on top. All of these components are good, but this dish can often be stodgy or fussy.
For a simplified recipe for an elegant dish with clearer, brighter flavours, braising is the perfect technique. For flavour, sear the chicken breasts first, cook aromatics and add a balanced mix of water and chicken broth enriched with a modest amount of cream. Simmer the chicken in the reducing sauce until perfectly cooked.
After topping the tender chicken with some sautéed spinach and the cream sauce, give it a quick run under the broiler to become appealingly golden on top.
Start to finish: 45 minutes
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 12 ounces (12 cups) baby spinach
- 4 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless
- chicken breasts, trimmed
- Salt and pepper
- 1 onion, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 1 teaspoon juice
- Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat broiler. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add spinach and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer spinach to colander set over bowl and press with spoon to release excess liquid; discard liquid.
- Pat chicken breasts dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Wipe out pan with paper towels and heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook chicken on both sides until golden, about 4 minutes. Add onion and garlic to skillet and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in broth, water, and cream and bring to boil.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes; transfer chicken to large plate and tent with aluminium foil. Continue to simmer sauce until reduced to 1 cup, about 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan and lemon zest and juice.
- Cut breasts crosswise into ½-inch-thick slices and arrange on broiler-safe platter. Scatter spinach over chicken and pour sauce over spinach. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan and broil until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve.