It’s getting to that time of year when we are all feeling a little cold. The nights are starting to get dark and so we look for comfort wherever we can find it. Don’t worry – I got your back with this one! Tuscan chicken is easy to prepare and packed with flavour. Tasty chargrilled chicken smothered in a rich, creamy, tomato and spinach based sauce with parmesan and bacon. I don’t know about you, but that’s just about all I’m looking for on a fresh, autumn night. This was cooked on my Weber Kettle using my lodge cast iron skillet. I can highly recommend you give this one a try. If you want to watch me cook this recipe, click the thumbnail at the bottom of the recipe.
4-5 boneless chicken breasts
Garlic infused oil from Broightergold
Texas ranch seasoning from The Smokey Carter
150g bacon lardons
large knob of butter
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 onion, finely diced
300ml chicken stock
250g cherry tomatoes
large handful of spinach
1 cup double cream
50g parmesan cheese, grated
4-5 basil leaves
Method for Tuscan Chicken
To start off this Tuscan Chicken, fire up your BBQ with 2/3 chimney starter of Weber briquettes and tip them into the charcoal basket. Place the baskets both to one side of the BBQ to give you a 50/50 split – which means you have an area of direct and indirect heat. I shut my top and bottom vents down by a third to regulate the temperature a little while grilling the chicken
Drizzle the chicken breast with a little garlic infused oil then season generously with the Texas ranch seasoning from the Smokey Carter. If you don’t have this seasoning, you can grab it here or swap it out for your favourite chicken seasoning. This has a great Dill flavour to it that works really well in this dish.
Place the chicken directly over the goals and grill it on both sides until you have a nice colour. When you are happy with the colour – move the chicken to the indirect side as it will not be cooked all the way through. By moving it across, it will continue to cook while you prepare the sauce.
Place a dry cast iron skillet onto the BBQ over the coals and add the bacon lardons while the skillet is still cold. I used my Lodge 10.25 inch skillet for this. The reason for adding the bacon into a cold skillet is to render out as much fat as possible by bringing the temperature up slowly. When the bacon is crisp and golden, remove it from the skillet using a slotted spoon and leave to one side, ready to be added back in later. Your skillet should have a good amount of bacon fat and fond.
Add the butter to the hot skillet and once melted, add the onions and garlic. Saute the onions for 3-4 minutes until soft then add approximately 200mls of your chicken stock to deglazed any bacon residue off the skillet. Bring the stock up to a gentle simmer again then add your whole cherry tomatoes. Close the lid of the BBQ to ensure the chicken continues to cook and allow the tomatoes to soften.
After 4-5 minutes, the tomato skins will start to burst showing that they are softened enough to move onto the next stage. Use the back of a spoon to lightly crush the tomatoes allowing them to release their flavour into the sauce. Check the consistency of your stock at this stage. It will begin the thicken so you can add another 50mls of your stock if needed. Next, add your large handful of spinach to the skillet and close the BBQ lid again to allow it to wilt.
After a couple of minutes, stir the wilted spinach into your sauce then add the cup of double cream, the parmesan cheese and your bacon lardons back in. Mix everything through the sauce and bring it back up to a simmer until the sauce turns from a pale colour to a rich orange. Keep an eye on your chicken at this point, you should be getting close to that final target temperature of 72c. Get some Rigatoni pasta on to boil as we’re almost ready to tuck into this Tuscan chicken
When your chicken has come up to temperature and your sauce is ready, remove everything from the BBQ. Add some of your pasta to a bowl then spoon over some of your sauce. Slice one of the chicken breasts into three large chunks and place it on top of the pasta, followed by another spoonful of sauce and some finely sliced basil leaves.
This Tuscan Chicken is a real comfort food dish. The sauce is rich, creamy and decedent and grilled chicken has an amazing flavour on the outside that elevates things to the next level.