As a competitive cook, I’m always testing recipe ideas. My husband and kids are fairly accustomed to the constantly changing, experimental menu. Yes, I make the standards …spaghetti & meat sauce, tacos, meatloaf, chili, chicken n dumplings, etc. However, I like taking common, everyday ingredients and trying something new with them. Sometimes it’s a hit; sometimes it’s not.
Polenta is one of those experiments that was a hit. Many Southerners are completely confused by it. Looks like corn meal…tastes like grits…feels like mush… I got a fair amount of raised eyebrows and confused, half-frowns, but once they tasted it, I had a table of quietly cleaned plates. I can now serve a variety of toppings for the polenta and the kids will eat it every time.
Chicken is one of those versatile meats that everyone has in the freezer. However, finding a way to serve it that is unusual seems to be a challenge for everyone. My youngest son loves chicken so much that I’m convinced he will turn into a chicken tender. In fact, if I want him to try something new at a restaurant, I have to tell him that the kids menu doesn’t have chicken tenders. 99% of the time it’s a lie, but I’ve got to expand his horizons…right!?!
For one of my auditions, the challenge was to take ingredients that I would normally use and create a dish worthy of a restaurant menu. This is my chicken & polenta dish.
1 TBSP olive oil
2lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts–each breast cut in half
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 c. sliced onions
1 c. sliced green bell peppers
4 cloves garlic–minced
28 oz. crushed tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
2 c. chicken stock
1 c. ground yellow cornmeal
2 pkt. Goya Sazon with saffron
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
1/4 c. half & half
In a LARGE skillet, heat olive oil. Season chicken with salt, pepper, and cumin. Saute chicken in olive oil. When the chicken was just about done, I reduced the heat, covered it, and let it cook for just a bit to produce some steam. Remove the chicken to rest. Add onions, peppers, and garlic. Saute for 5 minutes or so until it is cooked down. Add crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. If it reduces too much add a small amount of water to keep it moving around in pan. Just before serving, added the chicken and the drippings and let it cook for maybe a minute or two.
For the polenta, Heat chicken broth and sazon to a boil. When it comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium and slowly pour in cornmeal, whisking constantly. Return to a medium-low heat and cook until cornmeal thickens. Add half & half and parmesan cheese.
To serve, spoon chicken, peppers, and onions over polenta, and watch for the confused, half-frowns to disappear.