I had no idea (a) how yummy polenta was and (b) how easy it is to make. I rank polenta up there with couscous for the ease of making factor. It's quick, it easy, and it tastes great with the addition of a tremendous amount of cheese. It's really a recipe for success, if you think about it. Therefore, making Rachael Ray's Chicken Parmigiano with Polenta was a no brainer.
You can see from the picture at left how darn pretty it turned out. This would be a great recipe for having people over, but it's so quick that it it a great weeknight dinner, too. I served it with a side salad since I felt like I needed something green on the plate. Here's the recipe with my comments in brackets:
2 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
1 28-ounce can of whole plum tomatoes
1 cup (about a handful) basil, chopped and divided
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups quick-cooking polenta, divided
1 cups Parmigiano Reggiano, divided
2 tablespoons water
2 pieces of chicken breasts, boneless and skinless [using only two breasts makes this more budget friendly, too.]
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Yields: 4 servings
Heat the EVOO in a medium saucepot over medium-high heat and sauté the onion and garlic until soft [make sure the garlic doesn't burn because then you'd have to start over!]. Add the can of tomatoes to the pot, crushing them with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon [go for the masher, it's more fun]. Simmer the tomato sauce, until slightly reduced and thickened. Once that is done add some basil and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
On a clean work surface area, arrange three shallow dishes: Place some flour in one, pour 1 1/2 cups polenta and 1/2 cup of Parmigiano into another one and mix until combined. In the last dish, beat the eggs with a splash of water.
Butterfly the chicken cutlets then cut each into two pieces for a total of 4 cutlets. Place the cutlets about 3 to 4 inches apart on top of a large sheet of plastic wrap then place another sheet over the top. Using meat mallet or the back of a frying pan, lightly pound the chicken cutlets to about a quarter of an inch thick.
Season the cutlets with salt and pepper on both sides then turn lightly into the flour. Next, coat the cutlets in the egg and finally into the polenta-cheese mixture. Reserve the breaded cutlets on a plate.
Place the chicken stock and milk into medium large saucepan and bring to a boil.
Meanwhile, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat with a thin layer of vegetable oil. Cook the cutlets in a single layer, in 2 batches if necessary, about 3 or 4 minutes on each side, until the juices run clear and the breading is evenly browned.
Once the stock and milk mixture is at a boil, add the remaining cup of polenta in a slow and steady stream while whisking. Continue whisking until slightly thickened. Add butter and remaining Parmigiano to finish.
To serve, pour some cheesy polenta onto the bottom of each plate the lie the crispy cutlets over it. Top it off with a ladle full of the tomato sauce.