Chicken Florentine Casserole

picture by the Serving Wench

picture by the Serving Wench

WARNING:  This recipe is not healthy.  There is no way around it.  I could have tried healthier alternatives but in all my research for vintage 60’s dishes, it seems that butter and heavy cream was big.  Go big, or go home, right?  Well, in my continued excitement of the pending premiere of Mad Men, I had to be true what they served (at least that’s what I’m telling myself).  Casseroles seemed to have been big in the sixties for entertaining and taking over to friend’s homes.  I’m not big on casseroles and neither was my mom, so this was definitely an experience for me.

This dish was fairly easy to make, but took many steps.  I poured through several recipes and finally decided on one.  I modified it quite a bit.  I love garlic, so I definitely increased the amount used, I wanted to add rice to this dish, but ate it all.  So plan B was to add pasta.  I love to use fresh herbs when I can, but you can substitute dried basil and thyme as the original recipe requested.  It was definitely delicious and look to learning other casserole dishes.

Prep Time: Cook Time: Level: Serves:
20 min. 1 hour Intermediate 8

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 pkgs.  frozen spinach (thawed & drained)
  • ½ stick butter (unsalted)
  • 2 TBS minced garlic
  • 1 TBS fresh thyme
  • 4 fresh basil leaves (chopped)
  • ¼ C (plus 1 TBS) flour
  • 1 C heavy whipping cream
  • 1 lb. chicken tenders
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can of chicken broth*
  • 2 C penne pasta
  • 1 pkg of prosciutto (8 slices)
  • shaved parmesan
  • Salt & pepper

*chicken broth can be substituted for white wine.

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Season and brown chicken.  Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Spray non-stick spray on a casserole pan.  Pour pasta in the dish, covering the bottom.
  3. In a large sauté pan, over medium to medium low heat, add in 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 tablespoon of garlic, basil and thyme.  Stir constantly.
  4. Add a tablespoon of flour and stir well.  Add in spinach and ¼ cup of heavy cream.  Stir well and cook until spinach becomes bright green (about six minutes).
  5. Top the cooked spinach on top of the pasta, covering the whole pan.  Top the spinach with the chicken pieces.
  6. In the same sauté pan, add the rest of the garlic, the rest of the butter and the ¼ cup of flour.  Blend until smooth.
  7. Slowly add in the chicken broth and the rest of the heavy cream.  Stir constantly until sauce thickens (about 15 minutes).  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. As the sauce is simmering, thin slice the prosciutto.  Add these pieces to the sauce.  Mix well and pour the sauce over the whole dish.  Be sure to cover the pasta as well. Sprinkle the parmesan on top.
  9. Cover the pan with aluminum foil.  Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Recipe was adapted and modified from southernfood.about.com.