The weather may still be fairly warm here in California but with the end of summer my mind immediately starts to wander to more cool-weather dishes; braises, and creamy, hearty dishes. I like these recipes because they fall in a special "in between" category that is, "in between" summery dishes made with vegetables and white meat and fall dishes that feature more hearty fare. I mean give me a creamy sauce and I’m all in – like lick-the-plate-clean status. In this dish seared chicken thighs with crispy skin are topped with a creamy garlic spinach mornay sauce. While most recipes for chicken Florentine use chicken breasts, I prefer seared chicken thighs instead since they are juicier and you get that crispy skin. Dishes that include the term “Florentine” refer to dishes influenced by Florence, Italy and typically feature spinach as a main ingredient.
4 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs, about 2 pounds
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
¼ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 (packed) cups baby spinach
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon parsley, for garnish
Preheat oven to 375º.
Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Heat a medium cast-iron skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Add the chicken thighs, skin side down, and sear until crispy and golden brown, about 10 minutes, rotating the chicken occasionally.
Move the skillet to the oven and roast for about 15 minutes, until completely cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a plate and let stand for at least 5 minutes.
To make the sauce, heat a medium sauté pan over medium heat, add the butter and allow to melt. Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds, just until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add the mushrooms and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are golden brown. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and stir to combine. Add the flour stirring constantly until it turns an amber color, about a minute or two. Add the milk stirring to combine. Bring the sauce to a simmer and stir in the red pepper and spinach. Continue to stir until the spinach has wilted. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper.
Serve the sauce ladled over the chicken thighs and garnish with parsley. Serve with a side of rice, pasta or quinoa.