Braised Chicken with Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Polenta
Slow cooking chicken steeped in mushrooms and tomatoes is not only flavorful, but full of vitamins and minerals. Polenta dates back to the 1700s when it was made popular in Italy. Polenta is a low carbohydrate food rich in vitamin A and C.
Braised Chicken with Mushrooms and Tomatoes
- 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
- 4 ounces slab bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 8 ounces button mushrooms, trimmed and roughly chopped
- 3 to 4 pounds of chicken parts, trimmed of excess fat
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 Diced canned tomato with juice
- 2 bay leaves
- Several sprigs fresh thyme
- Several sprigs fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish
Soak the porcini mushrooms in hot water to cover while you proceed with the recipe.
Put the bacon in a large, deep skillet with a lid that will hold all the chicken.
Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon gives up its fat and becomes brown and crisp, about 5 minutes.
Add the onions, button mushrooms, and chicken, skin side down, and brown the chicken well, rotating and turning the pieces as necessary; the process will take 10 to 15 minutes.
About halfway through this time, add the garlic and sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper.
Pour or spoon off any excess fat and add the stock, diced tomatoes, and herbs.
Adjust the heat so that the mixture bubbles gently but steadily. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and cooked through; the bird is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads155–165°F. (If you like, you can remove the breast pieces, which will finish cooking first, and keep them warm while the leg pieces finish.)
Transfer the chicken to a platter and keep warm.
Drain the porcini, add them to the skillet, and turn the heat to high (if you like, strain the mushroom soaking liquid and add that too). Boil until the mixture is reduced by about three-quarters and becomes fairly thick and saucy.
Lower the heat, stir in the butter, and return the chicken to the pan, just to reheat a bit and coat with the sauce.
Taste and adjust the seasoning, garnish with parsley, and serve.
You can make polenta with water only, but it’s a little richer and creamier with some milk in there. And polenta sets as it cools, which means you can slice it into squares for grilling or frying (see the variations).
Other grains you can use: grits.
- 1/2 cup milk, preferably whole
- 1 cup coarse cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon butter or extra virgin olive oil, or more (optional)
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Freshly ground black pepper
Combine the milk with 2 cups water and a large pinch of salt in a med. saucepan over med heat.
Bring just about to a boil, then add the cornmeal in a steady stream, whisking all the while to prevent lumps from forming.
Turn the heat down to low and simmer, whisking frequently, until thick, 10 or 15 minutes. If the mixture becomes too thick, simply whisk in a bit more water.
For soft polenta, you want a consistency about as thick as sour cream; for Grilled or Fried Polenta (see the variation), you want something approaching thick oatmeal.
Add the butter and/or cheese if you’re using them, then taste, add salt if necessary and lots of pepper, and serve.
Polenta: Add 1 teaspoon each chopped fresh sage and fresh rosemary (or 1/2 teaspoon each dried), along with the cornmeal. When the polenta is done, stir in 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic if you like, along withthe butter or oil. Cheese remains optional.
Polenta with Fresh Corn. When the polenta is almost ready, stir in the kernels stripped from 2 ears ofcorn and cook for 1 minute more.
Polenta Gratin. Immediately after cooking, spoon or pour the polenta into a buttered baking dish of a size that will give you a layer about 1 inch thick. Top with about 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese and broil until the cheese melts and browns slightly. Serve (with a spoon) hot or at room temperature.
Grilled or Fried Polenta.
Make sure the polenta is fairly thick when cooked and omit the butter and cheese. Pour the cooked polenta out onto a cutting board or into a loaf pan. Let cool for at least 10 minutes then cut into 1 /2 -inch-thick slices. When you’re ready, brush with olive oil and grill with a little salt and pepper.