Thursday, March 24, 2011

Chicken with Sundried Tomato and Bacon with Homemade Polenta

Even though it is "spring" here, the weather is still cold enough that I crave warm, comforting food.  This chicken with sundried tomatoes and bacon paired with polenta makes a really nice, cozy meal.  We were both stuffed by the time we finished dinner.  When we were making it, I ended up doubling the amount of chicken broth that I put in, since the sauce cooked down too much as we waited for our polenta.  We also highly recommend adding the olives for a different flavour and texture.

The original author suggested serving the chicken with polenta. This was the first time that I have made polenta, but I wasn't satisfied with any of the recipes that I saw online or in my cookbooks, so I combined a few recipes in order to come up with something that sounded good, at least on paper.  We called the polenta "mush" for a while, but it ended up being quite tasty and worked really well with the chicken dish.



Chicken with Sundried Tomato and Bacon 
From Serious Eats

2 ounces pancetta or bacon, cut into 1/4-inch strips
2 tablespoons olive oil, or as needed
1 boneless chicken breast or 2 thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 medium red onion, cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 tablespoons oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, cut into narrow strips
3 small cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/3 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
2 tablespoons Nicoise olives (optional)

In saute pan, cook the pancetta or bacon over low heat in a bit of olive oil until the fat begins to render and it is beginning to crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat behind.

Turn the heat to medium-high and, if needed, add some olive oil to the pan to cook the chicken (it depends on how much fat the pancetta or bacon rendered). Cook the chicken pieces until golden all over and just cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon to a separate plate.

Add the onion and cook until golden, about ten minutes, then stir in the pancetta or bacon, the sun-dried tomatoes, and the garlic. Cook for two minutes, then add the chicken stock and scape up the brown bits in the pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Allow to reduce a little, then stir in the chicken and half the basil to the pan. Once heated through, spoon the polenta onto plates and top with the chicken. Top with the remaining basil.


Polenta
About 45 minutes

1 cup organic cornmeal
1 cup water
1 cup chicken broth
1 clove garlic, grated with a microplane grater
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
dash of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup shaved parmesan cheese

In a medium pot, bring cornmeal, water, and chicken broth to a boil stirring constantly with a whisk to prevent lumps.  Stir in garlic, oil, and spices and turn the heat down to low.  Continue to stir the mixture briskly every 10 minutes.  Cook until the mixture is thick enough that when a spatula is pulled across the bottom of the pot the mixture doesn't re-fill the space.   Add the freshly grated parmesan, stir, and serve.

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