Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dinner tonight... Braised Chicken with Dried Figs plus Parmesan and Pepper Polenta

Tonight's meal was good but not spectacular, possibly because my salt grinder (which arrived full with Mr. Fritz in May) is just about empty. Plus, I made a couple of changes to both recipes, some for better, some for worse. For instance, the polenta recipe, from the September issue of Everyday Food, is actually called Pecorino and Pepper Polenta, but since I was lacking Pecorino, I subbed in Parmesan instead. Pecorino is possibly a little nuttier than parm, so perhaps if I'd followed the recipe more closely, the end result would have yielded a fuller taste. It was also, to be fair, my first attempt ever at making polenta from scratch (corn meal, water, butter, salt, pepper and cheese) and perhaps with practice I could bring out the flavor. In any case, it really is easy to make and I will probably give it another try at a later date.

I also altered the recipe for the chicken, but in this case, for the better I think. The recipe, Braised Chicken with Dried Plums, calls for bone-in, skinless chicken thighs. I used boneless breasts instead. And I subbed in dried figs for the dried plums because the idea of prunes wasn't as appealing as figs to my palate. I followed the recipe just the same, which calls for browning the chicken first, then removing it from the pan and sauteing some onions, a little flour and then deglazing with white wine before returning the chicken to the pot, covering it and letting it simmer for 15-18 minutes before tossing in the dried fruit. The technique of braising left the chicken nice and tender, and the gravy that it cooked in made for a lovely sauce over the chicken and the polenta. I'd definitely make it again.

Also, a tip: miniature bottles of wine come in very handy when you generally only use wine to cook with. (Wow. Poor sentence structure there!) I picked up a four pack of pinot griegio at the Teeter a couple of weeks or so ago and have since used a couple of the 2-cup bottles in recipes such as this one as well as a reprise of the Tomato and Sausage Risotto that I made for Mr. Fritz for dinner Sunday night. Very handy and a relief not to have to open a whole bottle of wine when only a small portion is needed for a dish.

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