Pan Seared Polenta with Chicken and Tomato Sauce

Last year I had the opportunity to attend a mushroom event in Dallas where we were provided a cooking demo by Chef Kent Rathburn of Abacus restaurant.

Polenta with Chicken and Tomato Sauce

My favorite dish of the event was a polenta cake with mushroom ragu.  A few weeks after the event I received the recipe for the polenta with mushroom ragu and have made it a few times to great acclaim.  While the mushroom ragu is lovely, I love the polenta part of the recipe best of all.  I love it so much I decided to play around with the idea of polenta cakes in general.  I am somewhat addicted to the dual textures of crisp and creamy and the flavor is fantastic when prepared very simply.

Polenta with Chicken and Tomato Sauce

What I came up with is something that is attainable on a weeknight if you do a little planning ahead, and it is exactly the kind of meal I would be happy to come home to.  This is also a good meal for company because it tastes like a million bucks and it is striking on the plate.  You can make the polenta and tomato sauce in advance then, on the night you plan to serve, just roast the chicken, sear the polenta, and reheat the sauce.  Despite the length of the recipe, it is as easy as can be!

Pan Seared Polenta with Chicken and Tomato Sauce     Serves 4

For the polenta:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup finely diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup quick cooking polenta

For the Sauce:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed with the side of a knife
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground fennel
1/4 teaspoon dry thyme
1/2 teaspoon dry oregano
1 can whole tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons fresh grated parmesan cheese

For the Chicken:
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt and fresh ground pepper

Non-stick cooking spray
Fresh grated parmesan cheese

Begin by preparing the polenta.  Spray an 8″x8″ pan with non-stick spray.

Polenta with Chicken and Tomato Sauce

Heat the olive oil a medium size pot over medium heat.  Once it shimmers add the onions and cook until they soften, about five minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for thirty seconds.

Polenta with Chicken and Tomato Sauce

Add the broth and the butter and bring the mixture to a simmer.

Polenta with Chicken and Tomato Sauce

Whisk in the polenta and cook until very thick, about five minutes.  Pour the polenta into the prepared pan and refrigerate for thirty minutes, or up to two days.

Heat the oven to 375 F and line a sheet pan with foil.

Polenta with Chicken and Tomato Sauce

Season both sides of the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.  Roll the thigh into itself and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 160F.

While the chicken roasts prepare the sauce.

Polenta with Chicken and Tomato Sauce

In a medium pot heat the oil over medium heat.  Once it shimmers add the onion and garlic cloves and cook until they soften, about three minutes.

Polenta with Chicken and Tomato Sauce Polenta with Chicken and Tomato Sauce

Add the red pepper, fennel, thyme, and oregano and cook for thirty seconds, or until fragrant.  Add the tomatoes with their juice, the tomato paste, and the sugar.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a simmer and cook for five minutes.

Polenta with Chicken and Tomato Sauce

Transfer the mixture to a blender and process until smooth.  Return to the pot and cook over medium-low heat until it reduces by 1/3.  Add the grated parmesan and stir well.

Polenta with Chicken and Tomato Sauce

Once the polenta has chilled cut into your desired serving size. Prepare a skillet with non-stick cooking spray and heat it over medium-high heat.

Polenta with Chicken and Tomato Sauce Polenta with Chicken and Tomato Sauce

Add the polenta and cook until golden brown, about three minutes per side.

Polenta with Chicken and Tomato Sauce

While the polenta sears place the chicken in the simmering tomato sauce to keep warm.

Polenta with Chicken and Tomato Sauce

To serve, spoon the sauce on your plate, top with the polenta and chicken.  Garnish with some fresh grated cheese.

Polenta with Chicken and Tomato Sauce


© 2010, Evil Shenanigans. All rights reserved.

Author: Kelly

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  • I love polenta, it is the perfect side dish for so many things.

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  • Beautiful recipe Kelly! I LOVE seared polenta! Matter of fact I think I’m going to have to make some Polenta now to put under my leftover Chicken Cacciatore ; ) Happy New Year!

  • Wow, looks so scrumptious! And it’s really pretty healthy, hardly any fat in this dish. Love it!

  • That looks really good. I have never made polenta at home… but I have been seeing a lot of it lately that I am thinking I should remedy that.

  • This dish looks so warm and comforting. It would be perfect for this time of the year. Yum!

  • Wow, looks so delicious. I love it!

  • This dish is begging to be eaten by me. Thank you for sharing.

    Just reposted: http://ptsaldari.posterous.com Would love your comments.

  • This is making my mouth water right now. Looks incredible.

  • I need to try polenta. It definitely on my must try list for this year. Looks fantastic. I’m sure it’s got the taste to match, too.

  • Looks fabulous! I’ve been trying to get my polenta right for months and yours looks perfect. Definitely have to give it a try!

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  • We love polenta and I’ve not made it in ages. Thanks so much for the reminder!

    Gorgeous, drool-worthy photos!

  • It’s all white and snowy outside, son perfect Polenta weather.

    I’ll make this today – we had seared polenta yesterday and some is still left.

    Yesterday we had polenta alongside a selection of smoked fish. It worked so well, the smoky/salty fish and the creamy bland Polenta with its crisp crust!

  • Looks absolutely fantastic. The color is gorgeous.

  • Nice presentation, the food looks great, can’t wait to try it.

  • Oh lordy – that looks deliciously mouth-watering. Can’t wait to give it a try!

  • My husband would love me double extra if I pulled this one off.

  • oh that last photo had me drooling! looks wonderful

  • This looks SO incredible!!!

  • This looks great. Plus, with the leftover polenta we pan sear it and pour maple syrup over the top for breakfast – so good.

  • You’re right about this being a dish for guests. It looks really impressive and difficult, but is actually pretty easy.

  • Ooh this is absolutely lovely. I haven’t had too experience with eating polenta, but this looks like something I should try! The mushroom ragu sauce looks like a winner. I love anything tomato-based as a sauce, so this is a great idea. Thanks!

  • That looks so wonderful! I’m hungry now.

  • Can you believe I have never made polenta? I’m ashamed to admit it. I am bookmarking this recipe because I have been meaning to make polenta for a while, and I know my hubby will love it.

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  • This looks like a great dish! I love polenta served like that 🙂 It’s so pretty looking too.

  • We came across this recipe yesterday and made a version of our own….really sensational. You always do it right! best from montecito, California where it is still raining?

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  • Donna

    I made this for dinner club last night. Everyone raved! Amazing recipe!!

  • Stefan

    All i see is in this review is , looks like , Looks Good, has anyone cook it?

    Liver looks good but i would never eat it..

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