For some time Costco sold a pre-packaged version of chicken florentine in their deli section. All one had to do was put it in the oven for about 45 minutes and it was a ready-made meal. For some reason they stopped selling it at our local location so I attempted to recreate it for myself so I could still have it whenever I wanted. While not exactly the same, it's a good replica and just as easy to cook out of the freezer. [Florentine, by the way, generally means cooked in the style of Florence, Italy but, for the most part, refers to dishes cooked with spinach, usually in a sauce.]
Ingredients listed are for cooking one large chicken breast. Scale accordingly.
- Chicken breast (large)
- Packaged Spinach Dip (32 oz package bought at Costco - other brands should do)
- Parmesan Cheese (5 heaping tablespoons for the amount of spinach dip above)
- Package of froxen chopped spinach (make certain it's chopped)
- This recipe will be in two parts. This first part will make the florentine mix. The size of the ingredients above will make approximately five batches of the mixture. The batches not used immediately can be frozen for future use.
- In a large mixing bowl (remember it has to hold the whole 32 oz container of dip plus the other ingredients) place five heaping tablespoons of the grated cheese.
- Now, defrost the frozen spinach and drain it completely. This step is very important as without draining the spinach you are going to have much too much moisture in the mix and the chicken will basically boil instead of steam. I defrost by putting the spinach in the microwave for a bit and then take small batches of the defrosted spinach and place them into a sieve and use the back of a spoon to press down on the spinach until no more water comes out.
- Mix the drained spinach with the grated cheese and then stir in the whole container of spinach dip.
- Once the ingredients are completely mixed that is the end of part one of the recipe. At this point you can spoon the mixture out onto plastic wrap and then seal the packages and place them into a larger freezer bag to freeze for future use. Each serving is about three (3) heaping tablespoons of the mix and the mixture should make five (5) servings.
- Part two of the recipe starts here and if you have frozen mixture from the past start here. Preheat the oven to 350-degrees F. Place a square of aluminum foil in a rectangular baking pan and then oil the foil to prevent sticking (a spray of Pam does a good job). The foil should be large enough to hold the chicken breast with mix on top and still allow room to close the top of the foil to make a sealed package for the cooking.
- If dealing with frozen foods, defrost the chicken breast and mixture completely. Then, place the chicken breast onto the bottom of the foil package and put one serving of the spinach mixture on top.
- Now, seal the top and sides of the package and place in the 350-degree oven. The package should cook until the thickest part of the chicken breast comes to 160-degrees F internal temperature. This usually takes about 45 minutes for me; your time may vary. At about the 30 minute point you can take the package out and open it up. Use an instant read thermometer to check the temperature and judge how long you have to cook the package from that. At this point you can either reseal the package or just leave it open so some of the moisture evaporates (I leave it open). When the internal chicken temperature reaches 160-degrees F the meal is ready to serve. One large breast makes a meal for two people for our house's appetite level but there are no teenagers in the house.
- The fat content of this meal depends largely on the fat content of the spinach dip you use.
- Having the spinach mixture frozen and ready to use makes this a fast and easy meal maker as we need nothing else with it for a satisfying meal-in-a-package.
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Tom Simondi, All Rights Reserved