Spinach and Artichoke Chicken with Much Dairy
very gloppy, very satisfying, meant to comfort you. also works as a sedative.
Things you’ll need: Chicken with skin, shallots or the rest of an onion, some mushrooms, one can of artichokes, a lot of spinach, manchego cheese (or parm or both), cream cheese, cream, butter, garlic, red pepper flake or Aleppo chili, salt and pepper.
incidentally gluten-free, inspired by this and an intense google spree of creamed spinach and artichoke dip recipes.
Sometimes you think, can’t I just give up?
Yes. Yes, you can.
But you likely won’t. You want to all the time. Occasionally you even take an entire day, or at least a few hours, to just collapse and whine or hold yourself or get in the car and drive somewhere, anywhere, where you can breathe a little bit better, and it helps.
Sometimes you just want to eat something so rich and heavy that you will forget about all of the things you had to digest (emotionally) this week, year, day, 10 minutes ago, but you also don’t want to forget to eat things like vegetables.
There are a couple of options. Go with something rich and starchy like a Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole, Alfredo sauce with a vegetable afterthought, a big bowl of zoodles topped with burrata, or this spinach and artichoke chicken with a lot of dairy.
Picture something like creamed spinach, but more like spinach and artichoke dip, but also like one of those casseroles with chicken and rice all bound together by a can of cream of mushroom soup except without the canned soup.
Preheat the oven to 350. Grab lots of spinach, like a whole lot, like maybe 2+ pounds. Cook or thaw that and then squeeze out all the extra moisture, chop it up real good, and set aside. Grab a can of artichokes from the pantry. If canned, rinse and squeeze out the moisture. If oil marinated (fancy), strain a little. If whole, quarter them.
Depending on how much you are making, use a dutch oven or a cast-iron skillet (something big enough and oven-safe). Start with some chicken thighs or any chicken with skin, because crispy skin is delicious, and you need all the rendered chicken schmaltz. Start with room temperature, pat-dried, simply seasoned (salt and pepper, maybe rubbed sage and a little paprika) chicken in a lightly oiled cold pan. When you start with a cold pan, the skin and meat won’t immediately seize up on you. Give it a try.
Once the skin is your required level of crispy, flip the pieces and let them brown a bit too, then remove from the pan and set aside. See all that delicious stuff stuck to the pan? That’s the good stuff.
Add a little butter (because) and then toss in some diced or sliced mushrooms (like one 8-12 oz container or however much you have/want) and cook while stirring until the moisture cooks off and they begin to brown, then add diced shallot or onion along with red chili flake or aleppo chili, and continue cooking, building on all that delicious pan browning. If you are adding garlic, add it once the onions are translucent or a bit browned and cook until fragrant.
Not that you’ve built up all that browning, time to deglaze. Pour in about a cup or more of heavy cream, milk, or a blend of both, and get all the browned bits up from that pot. Then, toss in about 2-4 ounces of cubed cream cheese and stir until the lumps are mostly gone.
Stir in the spinach and artichokes. Fold in ½ - 1 cup of shredded manchego cheese (or parm or a mix). If it looks really thick and less saucy than you’d like, you can add a little more milk.
Remove from heat and salt and pepper to taste. When you are happy, plop the browned chicken on top and stick it in the oven (uncovered to preserve the crispy chicken skin) and cook until the chicken registers at 165, maybe 10-15 minutes.
Serve with rice and/or crusty bread and then slip happily into a food coma, allowing mostly every other thought or concern to melt away like a warm pat of butter.
As always, thank you for subscribing!
If you’d like to support this work, please consider becoming a paid subscriber, sharing, forwarding, or otherwise spreading the word about this project. Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Drop us a line! email@example.com
*post number 100! Woot! I am pretty sure that I double numbered a few of these (COVID brain), so it might be 102 or 99 or something, but whatever. I don’t normally break the fourth wall much and acknowledge the weird kitchen-witch behind the curtain, but I want to especially thank all my friends and family who have been reading along this whole time (or most of it). When you send me pictures of the food you’ve made from these essays or copies of sarcastically written cookbooks from the 1950s, it just fills me with so much joy. You’ve told me that these have helped get you through and I just want to acknowledge that they get me through too. You help get me through.
Since March, I closed the chapter on my life as a bar/restaurant owner, packed myself up, and moved back home. I feel like you’ve been with me every step of the way. I don’t know that I would have made it otherwise. Plus, you challenge me to try new things all the time, like baking! I’ve even made 3 loaves of banana bread that I haven’t told you about yet because I keep eating them before I can take a picture.
Anyway, I miss you. I am grateful to you and for you. I’m not sure what the next chapters of my life will be like, but I hope for another 100 chapters of this.