On a trip to the Tuscany region of Italy my husband and I enjoyed Creamy Tuscan Chicken. It was so delicious I still remember it—sautéed chicken simmering in a rich, creamy Parmesan sauce and flavored with tangy sun-dried tomatoes, earthy mushrooms, and spinach. Most food historians believe this dish originated in Tuscany, but we found it on the menu in other parts of Italy. When I am reminiscing about that delightful trip, I make Creamy Tuscan Chicken and transport my dinner table back to Italy.
You can serve Creamy Tuscan Chicken by itself with crusty bread for dipping in the sauce or with mashed potatoes, creamy polenta, or pasta. I personally prefer adding pasta—8 ounces of penne pasta is the perfect amount. You might be tempted to add more, but don’t. The pasta will soak up too much of the delicious sauce.
Sautéing the veggies in sun-dried tomato oil adds more flavor to this already yummy recipe. I like using baby bella mushrooms, but any sliced mushroom will work. Two cups of spinach works nicely, but if you want more, it won’t affect the outcome. This recipe calls for boneless, skinless chicken breasts; but if you have bone-in, skin-on breasts on hand, I have included tips on de-boning chicken breasts. Join me in transporting your dinner table to Tuscany!
Creamy Tuscan Chicken Serves 4
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces Salt to taste Large grind black pepper to taste
In a large sauté pan, place olive oil over a medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add chicken and season to taste with salt and pepper. Sauté until chicken is cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer cooked chicken pieces to a plate and set aside.
2 tablespoons oil from sun-dried tomatoes 1 large white onion, finely chopped, (about 2 cups) 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced 4 teaspoons minced garlic ¾ cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained and sliced ½ cup white wine 2 cups spinach 2 cups half-and-half 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon large grind black pepper ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh basil, slivered In the same sauté pan, add sun-dried tomato oil and heat over a medium heat. Add onion and mushrooms and sauté until onion is softened and translucent and mushrooms are golden, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and wine and sauté for 2 minutes. Add spinach and stir until spinach wilts.
Add half-and-half, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper and stir. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Add Parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Add chicken back to the skillet and simmer until chicken is heated through.
To serve, garnish with basil.
Tips on de-boning chicken breasts: If you are on a budget where every penny counts, it is cheaper to buy chicken breasts that still have their bones and skin. If the rib bones of the chicken are large, use a pair of poultry scissors to remove them. Cut out enough of the rib so that the breast will lay flat. Using a sharp knife, cut the breast away, keeping as close to the bone as possible. You should feel the bone with every cut. To remove the wishbone, simply cut around it and remove it. To remove the skin, slide your fingers underneath it and pull it off. Trim any excess fat.
Tips on storing Parmesan cheese: Hard cheeses like Asiago, Parmesan, pecorino Romano, and Cheddar can last 4 to 6 months in the refrigerator if stored properly. Wrap the cheese in cheese cloth, parchment paper, or butcher paper. Don’t smother it but give it room to breathe. If hard cheese has white or blue-green mold, cut off the mold, along with a half-inch piece surrounding it. What remains should be safe to consume. If the mold is red or brown, throw the entire chunk out.
Carol Ann Kates is the award-winning author of cookbook, Secret Recipes from the Corner Market and Grocery Shopping Secrets. She’s an expert in how to shop, select, and store produce for maximizing home cooking outcomes and minimizing time and money spent. As a former supermarket and deli operator, Carol Ann shares grocery-insider wisdom—the same expertise you used to receive when patronizing a mom-and-pop establishment. Contact her at CarolAnn@CarolAnnKates.com and explore her website, www.CarolAnnKates.com.
Copyright 2023 All Rights Reserved Carol Ann Kates