Why is it that any dish with the name Florentine contain spinach? Maybe it’s because Arab Merchants brought Spinach to Sicily over 1,2000 years ago, and the plant thrived. There are a lot of thoughts on the relationship of Spinach and Florence. Some are very romantic. Any way you look at it, spinach brightens up the plate.
The truth of the matter is that while American renditions of Florentine Dishes do contain spinach, they are not true to the Florentine-style. To truly be Florentine, the dish need a Mornay Sauce, grated cheese and an Au Gratin finish. Oh well, at least we got the spinach part right.
This dish cooks up a lot like a Risotto, but with much less effort. It gets its creamy texture from the Evaporated Milk – the same stuff in the can that gives many fudge recipes their creaminess. So to say this dish is rich is an understatement.
I like the fact that everything cooks up in a single pot. To make this a complete meal, all you really need to add is a salad. And who doesn’t love a salad with anything Italian?
Cream of Chicken and Rice Florentine
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 lb Boneless Chicken Breasts
Kosher Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
3 medium White Onions
8 oz White Button Mushrooms
1 medium Carrot
2 Garlic Cloves
3/4 cup White Rice
14 oz Chicken Stock
3/4 cup Water
1/2 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1 (12 fluid ounce) can Evaporated Milk
2 tablespoons Flour
4 cups packed Fresh Spinach
Zest lemon into a small bowl. Cut lemon in half, juice over the zest and set aside.
In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Once the oil is hot, reduce heat to medium. Add chicken, cook 15 minutes or until cooked through, turning once. Transfer chicken to a plate to cool.
Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the onions, set aside. Rinse and slice the mushrooms, set aside. Shred carrot, set aside.
Return the empty Dutch Oven to medium heat. Saute the onions, mushrooms and carrots for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
The chicken should be cool enough to handle. Use two forks to pull breasts apart into coarsely shredded meat. Set aside.
Peel garlic, grate directly over the sautéed vegetables. Stir in the rice, cook for 3 minutes stirring constantly to nicely toast the grains.
Add broth, water and Italian Seasoning. Season with a little black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
While the rice cooks, whisk evaporated milk with the flour in a small bowl. Pour into the Dutch Oven. Cook, stirring constantly, until bubbling.
Add shredded chicken to the mixture. Top with spinach. Reduce heat, simmer for 5 minutes for the spinach to wilt and the chicken to warm through.
Stir in the lemon zest with juice. Taste, season if necessary, with additional black pepper.
Serve and enjoy! Great with Garlic Bread Rolls and a crisp salad.