This just might be the comfort dinner of all comfort dinners. My teenage sons beg me to make this Chicken Scaloppini and Creamy Polenta all the time, and I admit, they are two of my all-time favorites as well. There’s nothing really fancy or unique about the two recipes, except for that they work – really work. A forkful of creamy polenta with a bite of the chicken with diced tomatoes and capers is simply delicious.
A lot of success in cooking is about finding the right flavors and textures of your entire menu and making sure they all complement each other on your plate, and in your mouth. I complete this menu with roasted broccoli and a sourdough baguette from the bakery at FRESH.
The polenta is also delicious for breakfast the next morning. After all, polenta is just grits with a fancy name!
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup freshly made bread crumbs
2 Tbs olive or canola oil
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 dried red chile pepper
1 bay leaf
1 Tbs heavy cream
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 Tbs diced tomatoes
1 Tbs capers, rinsed
Preheat oven to 350° F. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Set out 3 shallow pans in assembly-line fashion. Put the flour in 1 pan, beaten eggs in next, and bread crumbs in third. Dredge each seasoned breast in flour, shaking off excess. Then dip in the eggs, and finally press them into the bread crumbs to coat thoroughly on both sides. Set breaded chicken on a plate.
Heat large ovenproof sauté pan over medium-high heat, then add the oil. Brown chicken breasts on both sides until golden, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer pan to oven and cook chicken until cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to rack and let rest briefly.
Meanwhile, combine the wine, vinegar, shallot, chile and bay leaf in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook until pan is almost dry. Add cream and simmer until it reduces to about a teaspoon. Whisk in the butter little by little over medium-low heat until sauce is creamy and emulsified. Strain sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste and the juice from the lemon half.
Slice chicken on the bias and arrange on a serving plate. Spoon sauce over and garnish with diced tomatoes and capers.
8 cups water
2 tsp kosher salt
2 cups polenta
1/4 – 1/2 cup heavy cream, optional
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
8 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Tabasco or Cholula, to taste (optional)
Bring water to boil in a large pot or heavy saucepan over high heat. Add salt and reduce the heat to medium. Slowly pour in polenta, whisking constantly. Turn heat to medium-low and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon for about 30 minutes.
(NOTE: you can use quick-cook polenta, and adjust times according to package directions.)
The polenta should be thickened and pulling away from the sides but still pourable. Remove pot from heat and whisk in cream, if using, and the cheese, butter, pepper and pepper sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. Serve hot. You can reheat if needed, but you might need to add a bit of cream or milk to get the consistency back the way you like it.