Five Layer Chicken Florentine

Italian Entree

FIVE LAYER CHICKEN FLORENTINE

INGREDIENTS

FIRST LAYER – BOTTOM SAUCE

1 10.75-ounce can of cream of celery
½ cup mayonnaise
¾ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon lemon juice
⅛ teaspoon salt (⅛ teaspoon more in FOURTH LAYER)
⅛ teaspoon pepper
⅛ teaspoon Mediterranean rice spice
2 tablespoons rice vinegar

SECOND LAYER – RICE

½ cup rice
1 cup water

THIRD LAYER – CHICKEN

2 chicken breasts
2 tablespoon vegetable oil

FOURTH LAYER – TOP SAUCE

1 10-ounce package creamed spinach
½ cup milk
¼ cup grated Swiss cheese
1 small onion
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
⅛ teaspoon thyme
¼ teaspoon coriander
¼ teaspoon Poultry MagicTM spice
⅛ teaspoon salt

FIFTH LAYER – BREAD CRUMBS AND CHEESE

½ cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon butter, melted
¼ cup Parmesan cheese

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT

Large casserole dish
Medium casserole dish
Serves 6. Takes 1 hour 30 minutes.

PREPARATION

The five layers are from bottom to top:

First: bottom sauce
Second: rice
Third: chicken breast
Fourth: top sauce
Fifth: cheese and bread crumbs

FIRST LAYER – BOTTOM SAUCE

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add celery soup, mayonnaise, Cheddar cheese, lemon juice, Mediterranean rice spice, ⅛ teaspoon salt, pepper, and rice vinegar to baking dish. Mix thoroughly with fork or whisk. Bake in large casserole dish for 25 minutes at 375 degrees. (You can save time by preparing the fourth layer and putting in the oven after you have put this layer in the oven.)

SECOND LAYER – RICE (Above bottom sauce)

Take 1 cup rice and cook according to instructions on package. Spread evenly over FIRST LAYER in large casserole dish when both are done.

THIRD LAYER – CHICKEN BREAST (Above rice)

While at the bottom sauce is baking and the rice is cooking, cut each chicken breast into 12 pieces. Add chicken and vegetable oil to non-stick frying pan. Sauté chicken on high heat for 10 minutes or until it starts to brown. Stir occasionally. Put chicken breasts on top of the SECOND LAYER of rice when all three layers are done. (Resist the temptation to drive to KFC.)

FOURTH LAYER – TOP SAUCE (Above chicken breast)

Dice onion. Add creamed spinach, milk, Swiss cheese, onion, Dijon mustard, thyme, coriander, poultry spice, and ⅛ teaspoon salt to medium casserole dish. Bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove and set aside.

FIFTH LAYER – BREAD CRUMBS AND CHEESE (Above top sauce)

After you have taken the casserole dishes out of the oven, and have placed the first four layers in order, spread the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese evenly over the FOURTH layer. Pour the melted butter evenly, as always, over everything. Put the five layers in the large casserole dish back in the oven.

Bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees. The sauce layers should be set and the chicken cooked through.

Grab a cold mug of root beer. Sip it slowly. Savor the taste. Grab the frying pan with your other hand. Use the pan to threaten anyone who complains about the wait for this dish. Then eat it all yourself. It’s great.

TIDBITS

1) Spinach was cultivated 2,000 years ago in Iran. Now, Iran may very well be contemplating building a nuclear bomb for dubious purposes.

2) The ancient Romans and Greeks cultivated spinach as well and never built a nuclear device.

3) So maybe we shouldn’t worry about Iran.

4) After all Popeye The Sailorman always consumed cans of spinach in times of crisis and always fought for the honor and welfare of his beloved Olive Oyl.

5) California produces half of America’s spinach.

6) Did Popeye’s spinach come from California?

7) Did Popeye ever marry Olive Oyl? I’d like to think so, even if they had to elope to do it.

8) I had a Yogi The Bear lunch box in first grade. I don’t believe I ever had Five Layer Florentine Chicken put in it.

 

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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