Chicken Florentine Casserole, can be made with chicken, fish, or shrimp. Chicken breasts lie on a bed of fresh sautéed spinach and mushrooms, has a creamy white sauce with hints of garlic, Parmesan cheese, and Italian seasonings, is topped off with crumbled bacon and mozzarella cheese!
Is there any thing better than rich creamy sauces loaded with flavor? (Well… maybe donuts? Cheesecake! An Ice cold Dr Pepper!) Okay, sure, maybe there are things better than creamy white sauces loaded with Italian seasoning and garlic. However, I double dog dare ya to find one in a casserole dish better than this one!
I stumbled upon this recipe years ago and began tweaking it fit our tastes. The original recipe calls for canned spinach…I prefer fresh. Don’t like spinach? You can use broccoli! Don’t like either…well you got a problem! lol No I’m just kidding. You can just forego any greens…but trust me this dish will make a spinach lover out of ya.
The prep for this casserole starts with bacon! Any great main dish recipe…has bacon! (The only reason God made pigs! Let’s hear it for Wilbur!) The flavor a little bacon brings to a dish is astounding!
A half pound of Hickory Smoked Bacon from the meat counter is perfect in this dish. Meat counter bacon is thicker and has a perfect smoked flavor.
Cut thick bacon into 1/2 inch wide strips and set aside.
Melt 1/2 cup of butter in a medium size sauce pan over medium heat.
Add minced garlic. Allow the flavors to release in the butter for about 30 seconds before adding the next set of ingredients.
Up next…Italian Seasonings. I use a combination of a blend of Italian Seasonings and a Tablespoon of Dry Italian Dressing.
Tip: Dry Italian Dressing is great to have on hand and is a fantastic seasoning for a lot of dishes and bread crumbs.
Mix seasonings in with butter and garlic. Add one can cream of mushroom soup.
Stir until well combined. Add half and half. Continue to stir until well blended. It’s not looking super appetizing at this point…but stick with me…we’re creating magic!
Add fresh lemon juice…(How’s that stirring going… or as I like to think of it…Chunky Chick Cardio!)
Add fresh grated Parmesan cheese. Guess what ya do next? Count it out with me…stir 1, stir 2, take a breath, and again…stir 3, stir 4…get that heart rate going…stir 5, stir 6…flap them wings, flap them wings!
Seriously…stir until creamy and smooth. You may need to add a little more half and half to get the consistency you desire.
Take a little taste.. be careful…this could lead to a serious addiction.
Next up…my favorite form of Therapy! Tenderizing the chicken! Every kitchen should be equipped with a heavy-duty meat tenderizer. It’s a “She hammer”…”A mommy mood mender”! However…if mom is in a bad mood…wide birth my friends….WIDE!
Fillet two boneless skinless chicken breast. Using your handy-dandy tenderizer…pound the ever-living crap out of that chicken! I’m kidding. Don’t go at it that hard…if raw chicken is flying every where, and the kids have taken cover…ya may need to make a phone call to a professional. Just sayin’…
Add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to a medium size skillet, over medium-high heat. Add chicken fillets seasoned with salt and pepper. Cook until golden, turn and cook the other side. Juices should run clear.
TIP: Always preheat your skillet just like you do your oven. It will allow a beautiful golden sear on your meat.
Place cooked chicken on a plate and set aside…right next to that bacon! Let’em get chummy for a minute.
Times Up! (We don’t want them getting that chummy! This is a family blog!) Add cut bacon directly into the skillet and fry it up. Once done place bacon on a paper towel to drain, set aside. It can go back and visit the chicken.
Drain the bacon grease off the skillet. Add 1 bag of fresh spinach to the skillet over medium heat…
Sautè until slightly wilted…remove from skillet.
In a 9 x 9 baking dish arrange the spinach. I like a thin layer of spinach, but you can cook 2 bags of spinach if you want a thicker layer of the vitamin laden green leaves. You can also use canned spinach if you prefer.
Add one package of fresh sliced mushrooms over the spinach.
Pour half the sauce over the top of the mushrooms and spinach. Spread to cover.
Lay cooked chicken over the top of the mushrooms and spinach.
Add remaining sauce…
Top with bacon crumbles… (it’s lookin’ good now! Is your mouth watering?)
Cover everything with mozzarella cheese and a few leftover bacon crumbles.
Preheat oven to 350°. Bake 20-25 minutes. To brown cheese place casserole under broiler for 3-4 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Tender fillets of chicken breast are encased in a rich creamy flavor filled sauce.
The mushrooms add another layer of flavor that can’t be replicated any other way. Not to mention the hints of that Hickory smoked thick bits of bacon. It’s all about flavor my friends…it’s ALL about flavor!
This casserole is loaded with texture, taste, and simplicity! It’s truly an amazing dish!
This is not your typical family casserole! It has so many fantastic elements that come together to create a truly spectacular dish! Mr. Nest and I can’t get enough of this one. We loved every splendid fork full and we hope you love it too!
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