Our first company! Dave and I were so excited to welcome our friends Tony and Vicky aboard for a week in Mexico. Years before, we’d hatched the idea for our first charter when spending a weekend aboard their boat on Kentucky Lake. One thing had led to another and now we were cruising full time and they were contemplating doing the same.
We wanted to show them just how magical this life could be from the moment they stepped on board. The plan was to pick them up at the airport and immediately head to a nearby anchorage in time for dinner and sunset.
After anchoring, we had a “welcome aboard” glass of wine while dinner was in the oven. I’d had done the prep work the day before – Baked Tuscan Chicken is a wonderful make-ahead meal for guests, needing virtually no last-minute attention. Just as we finished eating, the sun set and turned the sky a fiery mix of crimson and orange. We continued to sit on deck as darkness fell and the stars came out.
Later, as we all headed to bed, Vicky turned to me and said, “This is wonderful.” I couldn’t have said it better.
Baked Tuscan Chicken
- 4 slices bacon
- 4 pieces chicken (any type: bone-in or boneless, white or dark, skinless or not)
- 1 cup diced onion
- 3 cups fresh spinach OR 3/4 cup frozen spinach, thawed and very well drained
- 2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini, navy or other white beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
- ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Cook bacon until crisp in large ovenproof skillet or Dutch oven (see notes if you do not have a pan that can go from stove to oven). Remove bacon and place on paper towel to drain. Leave the bacon fat in the pan.
- Brown chicken pieces in the bacon fat over medium-high heat. When golden brown, remove chicken and place on paper towel with the bacon.
- Add onion to pan and cook over medium heat until just starting to turn golden. Add spinach, cannellini beans, tomatoes, rosemary, salt and pepper. Crumble bacon into the pan. Mix well and remove from heat.
- Place chicken pieces over the bean mixture, skin or “nice” side up. Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes or until instant-read meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the chicken but not touching bone registers 165° F. Serve immediately if desired.
- To serve later, cover and refrigerate for up to 48 hours. Reheat in 350° F. oven, covered, for about 20 minutes until bean mixture bubbles. May also be frozen for up to three months; thaw in refrigerator before reheating or allow up to an hour in oven if not thawed.