Passion+Hard Work

It’s been crazy warm here—warm, but still gray and winter—and I think my brain is on some kind of hiatus, and not really in the place to be talking much, or taking pictures. I need to somehow get back on track to the above message, which I made for the masthead of the website I’m in the process of building for Prickly Pear Creative, but have since replaced with something else, because usually the first go at a design doesn’t work. That’s why it’s a process, I suppose.

But I’ve been cooking!

I am a huge fan of Top Chef, and when Fabio made chicken cacciatore with polenta in a recent episode, it totally inspired me. I found a couple of promising recipes online, and ended up combining them into a pretty awesome chicken dish, that paired so well with some cheesy, creamy polenta. The last time I made polenta, it wasn’t my favorite thing, but I’m glad I tried again, and I think this is the way to go from now on.

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Chicken Cacciatore

6-8 chicken thighs
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 cup all purpose flour, for dredging
3 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 roasted red peppers, sliced lengthwise
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 cup red wine
2 pints canned tomatoes with juice
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons drained capers
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dredge in some flour. Heat olive oil in a large pot, saute chicken for a few minutes on each side to brown. Remove from pan and place on a plate to hold. Add onion, red pepper and garlic to pan and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add wine and reduce by about half. Add tomatoes, chicken stock, capers, and oregano, and nestle chicken pieces into sauce. Simmer on medium 30-45 minutes, until sauce is reduced and chicken is cooked and tender. Serve with cheesy polenta or rice.

Cheesy Polenta

1 cup medium or coarse grind cornmeal
3 cups chicken stock, plus extra water
1 tsp (or more) kosher salt
1/2 c-3/4 c grated cheese*

Heat chicken stock in a pan until simmering, with salt. Add cornmeal slowly, whisking while adding to prevent clumps from forming. Cook polenta over low heat, stirring often, for 30-45 minutes, until there are no longer any crunchy bits. If it gets too dry or stiff, add a bit of water periodically and continue cooking.

Remove from heat and stir in grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

*I used a hunk of havarti, some pecorino and some parmesan. I’d say use whatever you have in your fridge. This would probably be great with some goat cheese, or any italian cheese, or even cheddar.

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