My Communal Table


My red pepper chicken with creamy polenta.
January 17, 2010, 5:52 pm
Filed under: Main Entree | Tags: , ,

Simple, easy, budget minded, delicious. What more can you ask for? I made this meal for four people for under $8.00. Sometimes, I am always a little shocked when I hear people do not cook. If you were not taught as a child, learn now. In cooking with my family, I spend less money, we eat healthier foods and by simply sitting around the table everyday together we connect. I just can not imagine sending my child out in the world without the basic skill that is essential to his life.

Boneless chicken thighs are laid out open and then stuffed with Italian chicken sausage that I bought at Trader Joe’s. (Make sure the sausage you buy is not precooked.) Cut the casing to take out the sausage easier, then place on the underside of the chicken and roll back up. I secure with toothpicks. I used two sausages for six thighs. Salt and pepper the outside of the chicken.

Place chicken in a skillet that has been heated over medium heat with some olive oil, top side down first. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350F. After chicken gets a nice rich brown on it, turn and brown the other side. Remove the toothpicks now. Deglaze(aka pour into pan and loosen up the tasty bits on the bottom of the pan.) with some wine. I used a Pinot Grigio. Maybe a 1/4 of a bottle. Then I added approximently a couple tablespoons of tomato sauce and a tablespoon of tomato paste, chopped up red peppers from a jar*(About 1/3 cup), a clove of garlic (chopped), and some fresh thyme (chopped). Stir and then put skillet in the oven to finish cooking.

The thighs should take about ten minutes more in the oven. After pulling out, stir the pan sauce and taste. Adjust seasonings. Serve. While you have been cooking the chicken make the polenta.

In a saucepan, bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil. Stir in cornmeal* to boiling water and turn down heat to medium low. The cornmeal will start to thicken and you need to stir occasionally. I drop in a couple dollops of butter and cream cheese and stir until it melts into the polenta. Romano cheese is grated in as well. Taste. Adjust seasoning.

This is the deal with polenta… it will absorb what you put in it. Instead of water, you can use part milk or stock. I have added lots of cheese or no cheese at all. I have added roasted corn kernels and/or herbs. You can make it vegan friendly or a dish that is a salute to the dairy industry. Do it the way you love it. This is what home cooking is about. You are starting to form your culinary point of view.

Put the leftover polenta in a pan and refrigerated. Later, I will slice the cold polenta and grilled it. I love sauted mushrooms on the top or tangy cheese melted all over it under the broiler.

Now for the salad… never has to be complicated. I just love to compliment a creamy main dish with a vinegary crisp green. Simple. Whatever greens I have in the fridge, I chop up, then toss with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Love it.

Dinner is served. Pull up a chair, Elizabeth

*Note:I usually like fresh red peppers, but there is a place for jarred peppers. I usually buy the small jars, because I can not use up the big ones fast enough. When they are sale, I always snap up a couple.
Polenta is the Italian name for cornmeal. Buy cornmeal. If it has the name polenta on it, it is overpriced cornmeal. I have seen it priced five times the price of cornmeal.

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