Yesterday was dreary, cold, and freezing rain. The kind of day that makes you need comfort food. We just got back from our whirlwind weekend in Florida where it was sunny and 75. That made this cold weather feel even more bitter. Luckily, I bought a rotisserie chicken on the way home from the airport and found all of these other ingredients at home waiting for me.
A traditional gratin uses just cheese and milk to make the sauce but I chose to lighten this one up a bit by combining the milk with chicken broth. It added a great amount of flavor and the dish was still plenty rich.
What you need:
2 tbsp salted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic thinly sliced
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup of 2% or whole milk
1 cup of chicken broth
Salt and pepper
1 cup of frozen spinach (thawed and thoroughly drained, excess water removed)
8-10 oz chopped artichoke hearts, drained
2 cups of shredded or diced precooked chicken (about 1/2 of a deboned rotisserie chicken)
1 cup of grated cheese (cheddar, parm, fontina…you choose)
plus 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan
About 1 cup of cubed stale baguette or leftover crostinis (croutons would work too)
1/2 cup of bread crumbs
Begin by warming the butter and olive oil in a medium sized sauce pan over medium heat. Allow the butter to start to brown and bubble a bit, about 5 minutes. Add the sliced garlic and stir occasionally so that the garlic becomes fragrant but not burning. Now add the flour and whisk to combine. You want the flour and butter to become smooth and turn the color of light caramel. Cook for about 5 minutes stirring often so that it doesn’t burn. Now add the milk and chicken broth and whisk rapidly until all combined. Allow the milk to bubble softly but not boil. When its thickened slightly whisk in the cheese, again until smooth. Turn off the heat and set aside.
Place the spinach, artichokes, bread, and chicken in an oven safe casserole dish. Season well with salt and pepper. Pour the cheese sauce evenly overtop of the dish and allow to soak into the bread and all around the chicken and vegetables. Stir a little if necessary. Now add the remaining bread crumbs and Parmesan evenly across the top and bake at 375 for about 25 minutes…finish with a quick broil at the end. Enjoy!