Monday, September 21, 2009

Chicken, Spinach and Mushrooms in Spiced Cream Sauce

Today is my mother's birthday (Happy Birthday, Mom!). Last night I had a little dinner for her, and my father and two close family friends came over as well. I made a bean and potato soup to start and dessert crepes to finish, both of which were a hit. But the star of the evening was this chicken dish.

I made this one up as I went along. And normally I run from cream sauce because I just feel so guilty if I put cream on anything. But this was so easy and so tasty that I'm glad I was willing to experiment with it. (Truth be told, I was planning to only have the chicken and veggies but when I put it in the pan, they just seemed so boring and un-birthdayish that I decided to try a cream sauce.) I won't make it frequently, but it will definitely have encore appearances. I'm thankful that I made mental notes as I cooked, because otherwise I probably wouldn't remember how I did this. Though, as always, I didn't really measure anything so the quantities listed below are lose approximations. So, without further ado, here is my new recipe, of which I am very proud.

This is not such an appetizing picture-- sorry! I forgot to take a picture before we served our plates. But in the casserole dish with the golden cheese on top, it is actually aesthetically pleasing as well.

Ingredients (serves 5-6)
12 chicken tenderloins (I used the frozen packaged Tyson tenderloins)
1 pint sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 lb fresh baby spinach
5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups white wine
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp butter
2 tsp (?) cornstarch
2 tsp (?) nutmeg
~1 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano (enough to top the dish)
salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large skillet, bring wine to a simmer and add the chicken tenderloins and a little salt. Cook until the wine reduces slightly and the chicken is almost done (still a little pink in the middle). Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Add the garlic and mushrooms to the pan and cook until mushrooms have softened and darkened slightly. Then begin cooking the spinach in batches, adding more as the previous handful wilts and cooks down. When all the spinach is cooked in the pan, remove from heat and drain most of the liquid. In a casserole dish, spread out the spinach and mushroom mixture with the chicken tenderloins.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the cream. When the mixture is just scalding, add a heaping tsp (or 2 tsp) of cornstarch and beat well with a whisk until it dissolves. Stir gently until mixture thickens. Add nutmeg to taste (I think I used about 2 tsp). Pour cream sauce over the chicken and vegetables in the casserole dish and top with grated parmigiano-reggiano.

Bake at 350 degrees F until chicken is cooked through and cheese is golden, about 25 minutes. Let stand for about 5 minutes and serve.

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