A few weeks ago we were in Missouri and had dinner at Luigi’s Italian Restaurant. It was an amazing meal. I had their Chicken Florentine and vowed to make something similar. It has taken a few attempts but I have come up with something pretty close. The key is the Sherry I think. I found this lovely medium dry Barbadillo Oloroso. I chose it because I wanted something dry and smokey. This one fits the bill perfectly. It gives the cream sauce a subtle sweet nuttiness.
This is a quick elegant meal. Thanks so much to Chef Ari Dreshaj for the inspiration.
To get started cut up your chicken. I used one giant (Where do they get these huge chickens anyway?) chicken breast for the two of us but, boneless, skinless chicken thighs work just as well. Season it with salt and pepper.
Slice up your mushrooms. Mince the shallot and garlic. I did one large clove of garlic but you could easily use two. That is arugula in this picture, cause that’s what I had but use spinach, it is better.
In a large pot start your salted pasta water. While the pasta is cooking make your Florentine. The pasta should finish cooking just about the time you are done with the Florentine. I tried a couple of pasta shapes and for this, I like fettuccine the best. Just like Luigi’s.
In a large skillet, heat enough olive oil to really coat the bottom of the pan. Don’t be stingy with it. It really adds flavor to the sauce. It’s ok, it’s good fat. Once the oil just starts to shimmer, add your chicken. Cook the chicken until it’s just starting to brown on both sides, remove it from the pan. Sauté the shallots. Add the garlic and then the mushrooms. Throw in the basil.
Once the mushrooms are starting to brown and release their moisture, turn down the heat and add the Sherry. Scrape up all those good bits. Now add the fresh spinach and stir it around until it wilts. Drop in the cream cheese. Stir gently until the cheese melts and the sauce thickens. If you want a bit more sauce use a bit more Sherry and cream cheese. Return the chicken to the pan and warm through.
Now dish up your pasta and top with the Florentine and some Parmesan cheese.
Flo's Chicken Florentine
Flo's Chicken Florentine is inspired by Luigi's Italian Restaurant's Chicken Florentine in Liberty, Mo
- 1 lb fettuccini
- 2 large chicken breasts or 4 chicken thighs skinless, boneless
- 1 shallot or about 1/4 cup
- 4 cloves garlic about 1 heaping tbsp
- 8 oz mushrooms
- 1 tbsp dried basil
- 2 oz fresh spinach
- 1/2 to 1 cup dry medium sherry I suggest Barbadillo Oloroso
- 4 to 6 oz cream cheese
olive oil and salt and pepper to taste
Cut chicken into bite size pieces. Season it with salt and pepper. Slice the mushrooms and finely dice the shallot and garlic.
Cook pasta according to package directions.
While the pasta cooking, set a large skillet over medium high heat. Add enough olive oil to the skillet to coat the bottom of the pan. Once the oil is just starting to shimmer, add chicken. Cook chicken until just starting to brown on both sides. It will not be cooked completely through. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
Add the shallot to the skillet and cook over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and season with just a bit of salt. Once the garlic is fragrant, add the mushrooms and the basil. Cook, stirring the mixture until the mushrooms begin to brown and start to release their moisture.
Lower the heat and deglaze the pan with the Sherry. Scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan
Add the spinach, folding it into the mixture until it begins to wilt. On low heat add the cream cheese. Stir gently until the cheese has melted and the sauce is silky and smooth.
Return the chicken and any juices to the pan. Combine with the vegetables and warm through.
Serve over pasta with a bit of good quality parmesan cheese.
These measurements are more of a guideline. Taste the sauce as you go. Depending on how much you need add Sherry and cream cheese to give you the desired amount of sauce.
You could use mascarpone cheese instead of cream cheese for a bit sweeter taste.