Posted: Jun 04, 2012 8:00 AM
 
Here's a fast and family friendly-chicken dinner that is easy on your checkbook. Boneless chicken is seasoned with Southwestern flavor and cooks while you make a creamy polenta side dish. Add a crisp salad and have this complete meal on the table in less than 30 minutes. Serves 8.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped coarsely
  • 1 poblano or other mild pepper, chopped coarsely
  • 2 pounds of skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 package of taco seasoning
  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons of lime zest
  • 2 cups of frozen corn
  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 3 cups of chicken stock
  • 2 cups of polenta or stone-ground cornmeal
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar

Instructions:

  1. Season the chicken with the taco seasoning, rubbing it in well.
  2. Let it stand for five minutes to absorb the flavors.
  3. While the chicken is resting, preheat a heavy skillet over medium high heat and add the olive oil.
  4. Saute the onion and peppers until they are cooked but still slightly crisp.
  5. Remove from the pan and set them aside.
  6. Add the chicken to the pan and cook until golden on both sides, turning just once -- about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from pan and keep warm.
  7. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the pan and add half the cilantro, along with the paprika, the lime zest and the oregano.
  8. While the chicken is cooking, add a little olive oil to a saucepan and then add the corn. Allow the corn to caramelize just a little (a little golden -- not black).
  9. Add the peppers, onions, milk, remaining chopped cilantro and chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  10. Whisk in the polenta and cook over low heat, stirring until thickened.
  11. Stir in the remaining butter and cheese and add salt to taste.
  12. Drizzle the melted butter mixture over the chicken, add a squeeze of lime and serve with the polenta on the side.

Tips and variations

Polenta is a delicious and economical side dish that isn’t used nearly as much as it should be. Basically it is just a type of very coarsely ground cornmeal (it does require nearly constant stirring to keep it from sticking and scorching, however). You can find polenta in the imported foods sections of many grocers but regular cornmeal works just as well.

  • If you like a little more heat to your foods, replace the cheddar cheese with pepper jack.
  • Boneless pork can be used instead of the chicken in this dish.
  • Have leftover cooked chicken and need to use it up? Just cut it into bite-size pieces and add a can of tomatoes and chilies along with the taco seasoning. Warm through and serve over the cooked polenta.
  • This meal, including the polenta, freezes very well for up to three months.

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