If you are a cheese lover, this recipe is for you! The Pecorino cream sauce checks all the boxes of rich, creamy, and cheesy, and the chicken and spinach adds a boost of protein and nutrients that makes this recipe both delicious and filling!
Looking for another way to visit Italy right in your kitchen? Try this Italian fish stew.
Pecorino Sauce Over Chicken
With “pecorino” right in the recipe name, you know that the flavor of this cheese is paramount to the recipe.
This recipe calls for Pecorino Romano, one of Italy’s oldest known cheeses. If you’ve had it, you probably remember it from its strong, robust flavor! If used too generously, it can overpower other flavors.
You’ll also add Parmesan cheese. This creates a great balance of the strong, rich Pecorino with the more mild, smooth Parmesan. You might be tempted to just use Parmesan to keep it simple, but I promise you will love the kick of the Pecorino!
Pecorino and Parmesan — When used together, these meld to create a deliciously creamy and tangy combo you will absolutely love. A great way to use up Parmesan is to stir it into polenta.
Half and Half — This gives us a delightful creamy mouthfeel while not being as heavy as cream.
Chicken Broth — I keep homemade chicken broth on hand, either in the freezer or in the pantry. You can use homemade broth or store bought.
Chicken — Chicken breasts are used here but you can certainly use thighs. Keep in mind they will take longer to cook and using a thermometer is always a great idea.
Sun-Dried Tomatoes — These add a nice chewy texture and strong flavor.
Spinach — Even people who don’t like raw spinach will enjoy it here. Once wilted and coated in sauce it’s a great way to get in some easy nutritious greens.
How to Make Chicken with Pecorino Cream Sauce
Start this recipe by pounding your chicken breasts to create tender, evenly thick pieces of chicken.
Pro tip: put the chicken breasts between plastic wrap and use a rolling pin instead of a mallet when you tenderize it; No more meaty mess on the cutting board!
After you heat up the skillet and season the olive oil with garlic, cook the chopped chicken until it’s golden brown. Once the chicken is evenly cooked, take it out of the pan and set aside.
The pecorino sauce is a simple combination of half and half, chicken broth, Pecorino and Parmesan cheese, and oregano. Throw some sun-dried tomatoes in to give a nice tang and some baby spinach for those nutrient rich greens! I love soups and sauces that don’t have to simmer for long! This sauce should take less than 25 minutes from start to finish. This meal is perfect for those busy nights!
One of my favorite things about this recipe is that you cook everything in the same pan! Don’t we all love those meals that you barely have to clean up after? I especially love to make sheet pan meals on busy nights.
Serving this Dish
The sauciness of this dish calls for the addition of carbs; it’s excellent served over noodles. Use your favorite boxed noodles, homemade Italian pasta, or simple homemade egg noodles. Homemade focaccia is another great way to sop up that delicious sauce. You could also serve it alongside Tuscan white beans.
Can this recipe be made Keto?
Substitute the half and half with equal amount heavy cream and water. Your sauce will be just as creamy as the original recipe, but the water will prevent the sauce from becoming too thick. Serve it over cauliflower rice rather than pairing it with the traditional carbs.
Do I have to use Pecorino?
Ok, so you don’t have to, but it really is an amazing taste experience you won’t want to miss. Using all Parmesan will work or you could even use Manchego or Asiago if you have those on hand.
Chicken with Pecorino Cream Sauce
Pecorino Romano is a well known and distinctive Tuscan cheese made from 100% sheep’s milk. It is sometimes used interchangeably in recipes with the more mild Parmesan. However due to Pecorino’s stronger flavor profile, this isn’t really an ideal swap.
Here, the stronger flavor of Pecorino Romano is balanced with an equal amount of Parmesan to create a flavorful cream sauce that isn’t overwhelming. Of course, the ratio of Pecorino to Parmesan can be easily adjusted up or down to suit individual tastes.
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4-5 large cloves garlic, smashed
- ¾ cup half and half
- 1 cup chicken broth, preferably organic
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/3 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, freshly grated
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- 1½ cups baby spinach
- Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- Place chicken breasts between two layers of plastic wrap and use a rolling pin to flatten to a uniform thickness. Alternatively, pound with a meat mallet. Discard plastic and transfer chicken to a clean work surface. Cut into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
- Heat olive oil and garlic in a large high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté garlic for several minutes until golden brown. Remove garlic with a slotted spatula and discard.
- Add chicken to hot skillet and cook until golden brown on each side, approximately 3-4 minutes per side. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside.
- Add half & half and chicken broth and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a spatula. Add oregano and grated cheese to skillet and whisk until cheese is completely melted, approximately 3-4 minutes.
- Reduce heat to just below medium and add the sun-dried tomatoes and baby spinach. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until tomatoes are softened and the spinach wilts.
- Add chicken and its juices back to skillet and simmer for another 3-5 minutes, or until chicken is heated through. Taste and adjust seasonings, as desired.
- Remove from heat and serve immediately with fresh pasta, Tuscan white beans, or over cauliflower rice.fresh pasta
To make this recipe keto, substitute the half and half with equal amount heavy cream and water. Your sauce will be just as creamy as the original recipe, but the water will prevent the sauce from becoming too thick. Serve it over cauliflower rice rather than pairing it with the traditional carbs.
The pecorino cheese is the star here, but if you don't have it, using all Parmesan will work or you could even use Manchego or Asiago if you have those on hand.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 405Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 149mgSodium: 497mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 52g
Originally published July 2020, this post has been updated.