Smothered Chicken and Creamed Spinach

It’s the day after Christmas, and although I love turkey and dressing, ham, and all those other holiday dishes – I don’t want to look at them again until next year. What I want now is something savory and good, with the earthy flavor of mushrooms, smoky bacon, and rich melted cheese; what I want is a good plate of smothered chicken.  Smothered chicken is so easy to make at home that you’ll wonder how any restaurant could possibly get away with charging twelve bucks a plate for it. Paired with a bowl of creamed spinach, this chicken is good for a quick dinner that will look like a total mess but taste incredible.

Smothered Chicken:

  • 1-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts. If they’re small, serve one breast per person, but most chicken breasts these days are huge, so feel free to slice them up into smaller portions as desired.
  • 1 cup mushrooms. I prefer the brown “baby bella” mushrooms, but you can use white button, oyster, or shiitake mushrooms.
  • Enough shredded cheese to cover your chicken. I’m using a firm, whole milk mozzarella here, but feel free to substitute your favorite cheese (provolone is especially nice).
  • 4 slices bacon, fried and crumbled (reserve grease).
  • Herbs de Provence.
  • Salt and Pepper.

If you wish, brine your chicken breasts for 1-2 hours depending on size. If brining, allow the chicken breasts to sit out of the brine for about 20 minutes before cooking. Season chicken with salt and pepper and grill your chicken – I’m using a cast iron grill pan, but any grilling method is great.  Set chicken aside to rest.  Fry the bacon (if you haven’t already), and once the bacon is crispy, remove from pan, retaining grease. Slice mushrooms thin and saute in the bacon grease until they have released their liquid and become golden brown. Top chicken with mushrooms, bacon, and cheese and sprinkle on the herbs de provence; place chicken under broiler until cheese has melted and browned.

Creamed Spinach:

  • 2-4 cups of chopped spinach (use fresh, it’s so much better).
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped.
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter.
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour.
  • 1 cup milk (or half and half).
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Ready a large bowl of ice water nearby. Blanch your spinach by first boiling for 3 minutes and then immediately plunging into the ice water.  Set aside to drain.

In a skillet, melt the butter and sweat the shallots until they are soft but not brown. Add the flour, stirring to make a roux. Be careful here; we want a blond roux, so keep the heat low and don’t let the flour brown. When the flour has taken on a slightly golden color, add the milk, salt, and pepper and stir until thick. Put the drained spinach in a bowl and pour the sauce over and mix well. Enjoy!

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