I have to confess that I had never tried polenta until about three years ago. I’m not sure why, I guess I expected it to be drab and boring. Honestly, it wasn’t even a consideration if I saw it on a menu…that is…until I ordered chili from a little pizza place around the corner from where I work. As I was eating the chili, I was getting these fabulous little bites of creaminess. I honestly thought they were dumplings, or chunks of some type of cheese. The next time I ordered it, I had to ask the chef what it was… and when he told me polenta, I was pleasantly surprised, and knew that I had found yet another new love. Polenta in chili? Genius.
Polenta is basically cornmeal that is boiled… which can then be eaten right away as a soft porridge type dish…or you can pour it into a baking dish and it will set up perfectly for you to cut into squares or triangles, or any shape for that matter, and fry them in butter as an accompaniment to a main dish. I love it either way….
So all week, I’ve been kind of hungry for polenta, and honestly, the plan was to make a simple mushroom sauce to go with it. My daughter Katie and I are the only two in the house who like mushrooms (Ok, that’s not entirely true…Mike will eat mushrooms on pizza). I just knew that Katie would love this. Saturday was the perfect day to make it, because the rest of my crew was gone for the weekend.
I tend build as I cook…. meaning that I have a lot of last minute ideas as I’m preparing the food, and am constantly building layers of those last minute ingredients into the recipe. I’m also famous for afterthoughts, in which I’ll add something to a dish that is already prepared.
So, I had the sauce simmering on the stove, when breaded chicken breast popped into my head…I thought that it would be delicious on top of the polenta, and covered in the mushroom sauce. I immediately got to work breading and frying..
I was right.
It was delicious.
I ate the whole plateful.
While I still think that just the mushroom sauce would have been absolutely perfect with the polenta, the chicken just added another layer of depth…a deep buttery goodness that with the mushrooms and polenta… well….they sang in perfect harmony…Yeah, they did….. I heard them….or maybe it was me singing….somebody was singing…
Honestly though, they worked together so well. I would definitely make this again…and again…and again…
Breaded Chicken with Mushroom Sauce over Polenta
2 boneless chicken breast halves, split lengthwise
1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs
½ cup romano cheese
2 tbsp parsley
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
Prepare your breading station using three bowls:
Bowl number one:.Add the flour, black pepper, and salt. Mix thoroughly.
Bowl number two: Whisk the three eggs.
Bowl number three: Add the panko breadcrumbs, romano cheese, parsley, oregano, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly
Place one piece of chicken in a large ziploc baggie, and pound out to about ½ inch thick. Repeat with the other three pieces of chicken.
Dredge the first piece of chicken in the flour mixture. After it is covered in flour, dip the chicken breast in the egg. When it is completely covered with egg, dip the chicken into the breadcrumbs, make sure that it is completely covered. Repeat with the other three pieces of chicken.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large frying pan on medium heat, and fry the chicken pieces until they are golden brown, about 15 minutes on each side, or until completely cooked. Remove from the pan, and set aside on a paper towel lined plate.
The Mushroom Sauce:
6 slices bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 – 8 oz packages baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 – 29 oz can tomato sauce
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
In a large frying pan, fry the bacon until crispy. Remove from pan with slotted spoon, onto a dish lined with paper towel. Set aside.
To the bacon grease, add the onions, and sauté until translucent, and add the garlic and sauté a few minutes more. Add the mushrooms and sauté until golden, and then add the sauce, bacon, salt and sugar.
Reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 30 minutes.
4 cups water
1 cup instant polenta
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
1 cup romano cheese
While the sauce is simmering, bring the four cups of water and salt to a boil. Slowly pour the polenta into the boiling water, whisking constantly. Simmer on lowest heat for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in butter and romano cheese.
I like to use shallow bowls for this dish, and begin layering with the polenta. Place a ½ cup into each bowl, swirling it around with the spoon to make a nice foundation for the chicken. Place a piece of chicken on top of the polenta. Divide the sauce between four bowls, and spoon over the chicken. Generously sprinkle with shredded romano cheese.