The definition of impress, as per Merriam-Webster, is to cause someone to feel admiration. The simple definition of stress, by the same source, is something that causes strong feelings of worry or anxiety. I get so excited when I can share a recipe that embraces the concept of Impress NOT Stress. This is one of those recipes! It is unbelievably simple to prepare, taking no time at all. All in, including prep, is less than 30 minutes. The golden-brown chicken, bright yellow lemon, and dark green spinach make a gorgeous presentation. Best of all, it tastes heavenly. The chicken is crispy on the outside and tender inside and nestled in a rich and tangy combination of half & half, lemon, garlic, and spinach, which come together in a luscious sauce. It is both a comforting weekday dinner and the perfect dish for company.
The ingredients are relatively basic, and most will be in your pantry. It starts with boneless, skinless chicken thighs. If you don’t like dark meat – boneless breast will work too. Regardless of what you use, let the chicken sit out on the counter for 20 minutes or so to come to room temperature. Taking off the chill results in a more even cooking. If you don’t have half & half, no worries, it’s effortless to make your own. Just add 2 tablespoons melted butter to a “scant” (not quite full) cup of milk. TA-DA, now you have half & half. If you have heavy cream in your fridge, you can use that in place of the half & half; just ditch the 2 tablespoons of butter in the recipe.
I shredded my own parmesan cheese from a wedge that I keep in my freezer, but it will save you a couple of minutes if you buy pre-shredded cheese. If you have neither, go ahead and use the canned parm that you sprinkle on pasta. It won’t be quite the same, but then again, no one will know! The prep work is minimal. The garlic needs to be minced or grated, whichever you prefer, and the lemon needs to be zested and juiced. Cut the second lemon in thin slices for garnish. If you don’t have a fresh lemon, use a ¼ cup of bottled lemon juice to compensate for both the liquid and the zest.
The chicken thighs need to be coated in flour with a bit of seasoning. I’m all about easy/breezy clean-up, so I use a plastic ziplock bag instead of getting a bowl dirty (it’s also more sanitary as there is no chance of unintentional cross-contamination). Put the flour and salt & pepper in the bag. Use as much or as little seasoning as you want. It’s personal taste. Add the chicken to the bag and gently toss it around until the thighs are completed covered.
Set the chicken aside and heat the oil in a large skillet. I used my cast iron skillet. A stainless steel skillet is also a good choice. Heat the oil until it glistens and shimmers (not smoke). Add the floured chicken to the pan with a fork. Cook the chicken for 6-8 minutes per side.
The chicken should be a dark golden brown and register at least 165°F on a meat thermometer. When the chicken is cooked, remove it to a plate.
Add the garlic to the hot skillet and slowly pour in the chicken broth, stirring with a heat resistant (silicone or wooden) spoon to scoop up all the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the half & half, butter, cheese, mustard, lemon juice, and zest, and let it cook for about 2 minutes.
When the sauce begins to thicken, stir in the spinach and add the chicken back into the pan. Cook for another minute and garnish with the lemon slices and basil leaves.
This dish tastes even better when served over pasta (spaghetti or linguine) or rice (white, brown, or cauliflower). The one-pan makes clean-up super easy. This recipe is sure to become a family favorite! YUM!!
Creamy Lemon Chicken with SpinachCourse: MainCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
Golden crispy chicken nestled in a rich tangy sauce of half & half, lemon, garlic, and spinach is prepared in one-pan and ready in 30 minutes.
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Salt & Pepper – to taste
2 tablespoons canola (or vegetable) oil
Six boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup half & half
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 lemon, zested and juiced, plus lemon slices, for garnish
3 cups baby spinach (washed and stems trimmed)
Optional: Fresh basil, for garnish
- Prep: Mince the garlic, grate the parmesan cheese, zest, and juice one lemon, and cut the other into thin slices. Measure out the Dijon mustard and chicken broth. If needed, wash and trim the spinach.
- Place the flour, and salt & pepper (to taste) in a plastic bag or large bowl, add the chicken, and toss to coat. Heat a large skillet pan with 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. With a fork, shake off any excess flour on the chicken thighs and place in the hot pan. Cook until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, about 6-8 minutes per side, (depending on their size.) Remove the chicken to a plate.
- Add the garlic to the pan and then slowly add the chicken broth scraping the bottom of the pan. Add the cream, butter, parmesan, lemon zest and juice, and some salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce starts to thicken about 2 minutes. Add the spinach, stir and return the chicken to the pan. Cook for 1 minute more, until the spinach, has wilted. Garnish with basil and lemon slices.
- Chicken: boneless breast can be substituted for the chicken thighs
- Parmesan Cheese: Save time by using pre-shredded parmesan cheese. Fresh is always best, but if in a pinch, canned, grated parmesan cheese will work.
- Half & Half: Make your own by stirring together 1 cup milk with 2 tablespoons melted butter.
- Spinach: Pre-washed and trimmed baby spinach is a great time-saver.
- For a complete meal, serve over pasta (spaghetti or linguini) or rice (white, brown or cauliflower)
- Zhoosh it up: Add capers for extra zing