Rethinking chicken florentine with clearer, brighter flavors

  • This undated photo provided by America's Test Kitchen in October 2018 shows Chicken Florentine in Brookline, Mass. This recipe appears in the cookbook "How to Braise Everything." (Daniel J. van Ackere/America's Test Kitchen via AP)

Chicken florentine is a buffet-line favorite featuring chicken breast and spinach in a mild cream-and-Parmesan sauce — sometimes stuffed inside, sometimes stacked on top.

We wanted a simplified recipe for an elegant dish with clearer, brighter flavors. Braising was the perfect technique to achieve this.

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Chicken Florentine

Servings: 4-6

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 shallot, 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 shallot and garlic to skillet and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in broth, water, and cream and bring to boil.

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Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes; transfer chicken to large plate and tent with aluminum 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.