Monday, September 5, 2011

Vinegar Glossed Chicken over Polenta

I am completely in the mood for Fall.  I bought supplies to make an apple pie and I am really excited for the Pumpkin Spice Lattes to start appearing in Starbucks.  I was having a conversation with of my "foodie friends" the other day and we were commenting on how we are about tired out of Summer food.

So, today, on the unofficial Last Day of Summer, I look to usher in Fall with this completely Fall-esque menu.  Vinegar Glossed Chicken may sound like an unassuming dish, but it was so amazing that we were practically licking our plates to reach the last bits of the sweet and savory, luxurious sauce after the chicken had been picked clean.  There is a reason why the recipe's author says it's been in her family's rotation for over 20 years.

The recipe originates from Lucinda Scala Quinn's Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys which is a cookbook that feels like it was written especially for me.  Not only do I have two little hungry boys and a hungry husband, we have a seminary student living with us.  I am completely surrounded by boys these days...

I followed the recipe almost to a T (except for substituting balsamic vinegar for the red wine vinegar called for) and it was delicious.  I think in the future I will experiment with boneless skinless chicken breasts and even pork chops.  I have a feeling, whatever meat I'll be glossing with vinegar, this technique will be with my family in the next 20 years!

First Fall Menu:
Vinegar Glossed Chicken over Soft Polenta (recipes below)

Roasted Butternut Squash (cut into 1/2" cubes, toss with a couple tablespoons olive oil, salt, pepper and some dried herbs--rosemary, sage and thyme and roast at 425, stirring occasionally until golden brown and tender: 20-25 minutes). 

Green Salad lightly dressed with vinaigrette

Vinegar Glossed Chicken
1 cup red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
2-3 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary, crushed
5 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken pieces (each part should be cut in half)
salt and black pepper
olive oil
3/4 cup chicken broth, plus more as needed

Combine vinegar with minced garlic and rosemary.  Set aside.

Dry off chicken with a paper towel.  Generously season with salt and pepper.  Heat a 14-inch skillet (or two smaller ones) over high heat and swirl in enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the skillet.  Place the chicken in the skillet, skin side down.  Don't crowd the pan.  Work in batches, if necessary.  You should hear an immediate sizzle when the chicken hits the pan.  Don't move them it takes a couple minutes to sear the chicken so it doesn't stick.  Brown all sides, this will take about 10 minutes per batch.  Regulate the heat so it stays high but does not burn the chicken.  Place all the browned chicken back in the skillet.

Add the chicken broth and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Lower the heat, simmer and reduce for 15-20 minutes.  Increase the heat to high and pour in the vinegar mixture.  Swirl the pan and stir around as the vinegar evaporates to form a simmering glaze, 8-10 minutes.  Serve immediately or reheat with some extra broth. 

Polenta: (a dish from boiled cornmeal that can be served similarly to mashed potatoes or fried up after it is cooled and sliced)

2 cups chicken broth or water
2 cups milk
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

In a medium sauce pan, bring chicken broth and milk to a boil over medium-high heat (watch it very carefully because as soon as it comes to a boil, it will spill over if you aren't paying attention).  As soon as liquid comes to a boil, slowly whisk in cornmeal.  Stir constantly to prevent lumps for about a minute or until mixture becomes thick and bubbly.  Stir in garlic powder and cheese until well mixed together.  Serve immediately (like mashed potatoes).  Or, you can pour into a pan, allow to chill and cut into slices and reheat by sauteing in a pan with a bit of butter or olive oil.

Recipe slightly adapted from Lucinda Scala Quinn's Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys

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