It was a cold, drizzly day in L.A. yesterday, and we were expecting a few friends over to spend an evening of fun and frivolity. But, what to make? I needed a crowd pleaser that wasn’t too fussy, but hearty and relatively healthy after all the excesses of the holidays. I thought of Chicken Cacciatore–full of vegetables, and I could lighten it a little by using skinless chicken thighs with the fat trimmed off. Now, the Polenta–that’s what was decadent, loaded with Fontina cheese–was a great complement to the Cacciatore. I also served this with red chard braised in chicken stock with onions and garlic, which is not pictured.
And props to my patient friends, who didn’t mind me setting up my studio immediately after I had finished my plate so I could take a picture.
These recipes are made to serve 8, but can be easily halved.
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, with the fat trimmed off (can use chicken breasts, but shorten cooking time because breasts will dry out quickly in braising)
1 1/2 cups flour, seasoned with salt & pepper
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large white onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 1/4 pounds crimini mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 bay leaf
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
1-28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
2 Tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
Salt & pepper
Chopped parsley (optional)
4 cups water
4 cups lowfat milk
2 cups coarse ground polenta
6 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded
Salt & pepper to taste
Note: This makes a rather large batch of polenta–if you have plenty leftover, pour the excess into a buttered loaf pan or cake pan. Polenta firms up as it goes cold, and can be sliced into pieces and pan-fried–absolutely delicious served with eggs the next morning.