Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Italian Chicken with Polenta

Let's talk about polenta, shall we? How do I always make a truckload? For this recipe I was determined to make just enough, so I used 1/4 cup polenta and 1.5 cups water. It worked! I like polenta very much ... I like it when it's called "grits" too. Although I would classify polenta/grits as an easy and accessible dish, I would also say that it's difficult to make delicious. I mean, sure, throw in enough cheese if it's polenta, or cheese and hot sauce if it's grits, and yeah, it's delicious to a certain extent. Sort of. But making it a stand-alone, excellent dish is tough. First there is the liquid - broth? milk? water? You need a good balance of a couple liquids, and I don't know what that is yet. Another issue with the liquid is the amount. I like my polenta to be like lava, so you need 5 or 6 parts liquid to polenta. But regardless of how lava-like I get it, it is gloppy once cool. That means seconds are gloppy and leftovers are definitely gloppy. The additions are also an issue: butter? cream? what kind of cheese? I have tried quite a few polenta recipes and I do have a couple that I make - they use milk and Parmesan and butter - but I'm not in love. I have yet to encounter a polenta recipe that gives me butterflies.

The green addition in this polenta is arugula. We were leaving and I needed to use it. I can't wait until I have my own arugula in my garden. The stuff you buy at Trader Joe's already has bad leaves in it, so you have pick through the bag and that's tedious.

In between arugula dishes, like when I have gone without arugula for a month, I forget how bitter it is. Cooking brings out the bitter and downplays the pepper, I have found. I'll take peppery over bitter, therefore, raw over cooked. I love that the Brits call it "rocket." Yes, it is rockety.

This is the last set of photos I saved before I left Seattle. I am in my final week in SF, and have been taking photos of meals here so I will have updates since I will be no doubt eating out of the freezer once we get back home. I can't wait to see what is in the bachelor fridge upon our return! I was thinking that I might just find the milk that I meant to throw out before we left - the 3 drops of 1%. Yum. Will the beef broth still be hiding at the bottom of the door? What about the soy milk?

Josh will no doubt bristle at the implication that he is some sort of slouch in the kitchen, or even the rest of the house. He is not. He merely has not the time to cook or clean and those things are part of my job description right now, so we pretend that I am not only in a position to do these household chores, but also gifted at both, while he falters. It's part of our domestic charade.

These were the chicken breasts I got at Safeway. They look enormous on the bone, but were reasonable once off. I continue to marvel at the well-known culinary fact that if you throw some meat and vegetables into the oven with a little liquid and seasoning, you might just get greatness out of it. This meal was darn tasty and simple. I don't have the recipe in front of me, but can add it later.

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