When I was a child in the eighties, when we were expecting guests at home I still see myself jumping between the kitchen where my mother was preparing either a stew or some other meat, and the fireplace where my father would prepare the polenta the way it was made in more remote times. He would stay there for at least an hour, constantly stirring and adding milk and stirring again. In the mean time I would prepare them little love notes, which I would slip on the kitchen counter for my mother or under the milk carton for my father. While I made this recipe I remembered such times and it brought me back to those times. Polenta is a poor man’s food and yet it’s something which can easily be served for a dinner party as it’s so simple and it can be dressed up for so many occasions.
Baked Polenta with Chicken in a Tomato Sauce
Recipe for 4
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 35-40 min
250 g instant polenta
1.2 l stock
480 g chicken tenderloins (alternatively use chicken breast cut into 16 chunks)
1-2 tbsp. olive oil
1-2 tbsp. butter
2 heaped tbsp. chopped sage leaves
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 red onion
2 pressed garlic cloves
160 g grated cheese
0.8 dl cream
salt and pepper
Heat oven at 220°C.
Place the stock in a pan and bring to a boil. Once it’s simmering sprinkle in the polenta and cook for 8-10 min while constantly stirring. Towards the end add the cream, stir until combined and remove from heat. Add 120 g of the grated cheese, stir to combine in the polenta and add pepper to taste. Pour the prepared polenta in a greased baking dish.
Pat dry the chicken and season it with salt and pepper. Heat 1-2 tbsp. olive oil on high heat in a pan and sear the chicken on both sides. Remove the chicken from the pan, reduce fire and add 1-2 tbsp. butter with the onions, garlic and sage and fry for 4-5 min. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 8-10 until slightly reduced. Add back the chicken to the pan, toss and place on top of the polenta.
Sprinkle the rest of the grated cheese and bake in the oven for 15 min.