Braised Chicken with Peppers & Onions served w/ Saffron Polenta

chicken & polentaAs 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.

Ingredients

Chicken

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

Polenta

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

Directions

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.

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