Winter is here. Have you embraced hygge yet? If you’re unfamiliar, hygge is a Danish and Norwegian term for a feeling roughly translated as the combination of coziness and contentment. Think candles, fluffy socks, cozy sweaters, or curling up by the fire with a cup of tea and a book. I love this idea, as it celebrates the joy and comfort in the simple pleasures in life. And especially now, when the holiday season can quickly ramp up into an overload of gifts to buy, events to attend, lists to check off. So what food brings to mind hygge? Certainly hot chocolate or vin chaud here in France, or a pan of dark chocolate brownies still warm from the oven. But for dinner, this Creamy Parmesan Garlic Mushroom Chicken is right up there at the top of my hygge list.
This recipe does take a bit of prep, so it’s not your 20-minute rushing-to-get-something-on-the-table meal. That’s one of its pleasures actually. Slow down and take the time to chop your vegetables, grate your cheese, and prep your ingredients. Maybe while listening to holiday music or a great podcast? I just listened to this great episode of one of my favorite podcasts, What Should I Read Next, which is honestly also like hygge for your mind.
Once you’ve got your mise en place done, you’ll cook some chicken cutlets and then put them aside while you build a creamy, mushroom-y, cheesy sauce. Sun-dried tomatoes and spinach add brightness, color, and nutrients. Pull it all together, and you basically have hygge in a bowl. Comfort food that hugs you from the inside out. Call your family around the table and share the love.
How do you make Creamy Parmesan Garlic Mushroom Chicken?
First, start that mise en place. Wipe 8 ounces of white button or cremini mushrooms with a damp paper towel to remove any dirt. Slice in 1/4-inch thick slices. Chop one shallot (you should end up with about 1.5 tablespoons) and mince 3 garlic cloves. Slice or chop 1/3 cup of sun-dried tomatoes into small pieces.
Now heat 2 T. olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle 1 1/3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken cutlets with salt and pepper and place in pan without overlapping. If they don’t fit in the pan without overlapping, cook half at one time and repeat. (If you crowd the chicken into the skillet, the cutlets will steam and will not brown.) Cook until bottom of chicken cutlets are browned, about 4-5 minutes. Then turn over and cook for another 3 minutes until browned and cooked through. Test with an instant-read thermometer—the internal temperature should read 165 Fahrenheit or 74 degrees Celsius. Remove from pan and put on a plate while you cook the mushrooms.
Add another tablespoon of olive oil, then the sliced mushrooms and chopped shallot. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms release their moisture and start to brown, stirring occasionally, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute.
Then add 1/4 cup of white wine and cook until it evaporates. Now add 6.75 ounces of heavy cream (I know this is a weird number, but it’s the size the cream comes in in France!), 1/2 cup chicken broth, 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, and the sun-dried tomatoes. Cook until sauce thickens, about 3-5 minutes.
Add 2 cups of baby spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Add chicken back to the sauce to warm up. Sprinkle with additional grated parmesan to serve.
Can I replace heavy cream with half-and-half or milk?
I will grant you that this is not a low-calorie dish. If you are trying to make it healthier, yes, you can replace the heavy cream with half-and-half or whole milk, but you will not get the same creamy texture. On their own, half-and-half and milk do not thicken the way heavy cream does when cooked. However, you can thicken your sauce using cornstarch. Make a paste from 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon half-and-half, then whisk into the pan while your sauce is cooking.
What is heavy cream in France?
In France, heavy cream is known by some different terms: crème entière, crème liquide, and crème fluide. Crème entière is a full-fat version, which is around 30% milk fat. This is less than American heavy cream, which is usually around 36% milk fat—however, I have found that they are quite similar in how they behave. You can also find crème légère. This is a low-fat version (around 12-15% milk fat) of heavy cream that includes thickeners. You’ll notice it is just as thick, maybe even thicker, than crème entière when it comes out of the package. I don’t love the texture or flavor of those thickeners—and I’m not quite sure what they are—so I prefer to use crème entière.
Can I use pre-grated parmesan cheese?
The star of this dish is the creamy parmesan garlic sauce. For that reason, I would recommend buying good-quality parmesan cheese in a block and grating it yourself. The flavor will be better that way, and the parmesan cheese will melt easily into your sauce. Pre-grated cheese will often not melt as well, because it is made to sprinkle on top of a dish. See above re: the meditative power of ingredient prep? Or, put your shredding disk onto your Cuisinart and grate your cheese in seconds.
Can I freeze this dish?
Personally, I would not recommend freezing this dish. Cream has a tendency to separate when it is frozen and then thawed. Given the amount of cream in this sauce, I don’t think it would take well to freezing and then reheating. However, leftovers can be put into an airtight container and refrigerated for 3-4 days.
What should I serve with Creamy Parmesan Garlic Mushroom Chicken?
This dish is delicious with all sorts of sides. This recipe is gluten-free and low-carb, so should you want to stay with that theme for your meal, I’d encourage you to serve it with a side of simple steamed vegetables or some lightly sautéed zoodles. If carb consumption is not a concern for you, this creamy chicken mushroom recipe goes beautifully on a bed of rice or pasta, or with some thick slices of garlic bread. A bright salad on the side like my Kale Salad with Cranberries or my Pear Gorgonzola Salad would be delicious as well.
Looking for other cozy, warming dishes? Try my Chicken Curry with Coconut Milk and Zucchini, Creamy Dijon Chicken and Mushroom Crepes, my Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup, my Creamy Orzo Chicken with Red Peppers and Mushrooms, or my Creamy Spinach Artichoke Pasta.
- 8 oz (250 g) button or cremini mushrooms
- 1 shallot
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/3 c. (1.75 oz / 50 g) sun-dried tomatoes
- 3 T. olive oil, divided
- 1 1/3 lb (600 g) boneless, skinless thin-sliced chicken cutlets
- 1/4 c. (2 oz / 60 ml) white wine
- 6.75 oz (200 ml) heavy cream or crème entière
- 1/2 c. (4 oz / 120 ml) chicken broth
- 1/2 c. (1.4 oz / 40 g) grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
- 2 c. (1.25 oz / 35 g) baby spinach
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Wipe mushrooms with a damp paper towel to remove any dirt. Slice into 1/4-inch thick slices.
- Chop shallot (you should end up with about 1.5 tablespoons) and mince garlic cloves.
- Slice or chop sun-dried tomatoes into small pieces.
- Heat 2 T. olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
- Sprinkle chicken cutlets with salt and pepper and place in pan without overlapping. If they don’t fit in the pan without overlapping, cook half at one time and repeat. (If you crowd the chicken into the skillet, the cutlets will not brown.)
- Cook until bottom is browned, about 4-5 minutes.
- Then turn over and cook for another 3 minutes until browned and cooked through. Test with an instant-read thermometer—the internal temperature should read 165 Fahrenheit or 74 degrees Celsius.
- Remove from pan and put on a plate while you cook the mushrooms.
- Add another tablespoon of olive oil, then mushrooms and shallots.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook until mushrooms release their moisture and start to brown, stirring occasionally, about 4-5 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook for 1 min.
- Add wine and cook until it evaporates.
- Add cream, chicken broth, parmesan cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes and cook until sauce is thickened, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute.
- Add chicken back to the sauce to warm up.
- Sprinkle with additional grated parmesan to serve.
If you don’t have thin-sliced chicken cutlets, you can make them yourself by horizontally slicing regular chicken breasts in half.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 422Total Fat: 31gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 95mgSodium: 336mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 4gSugar: 7gProtein: 18g
Nutrition information is provided as a general reference for users courtesy of the online nutrition calculator Nutritionix.