Many dinners that I prepare consist of seeing what is on hand and determining a menu from those ingredients. I don’t like going shopping for one dish. I have a fair amount of pantry space and a large freezer, so I can typically find ingredients to make something.
One night, I wanted to use some chicken thighs from the freezer and decided to serve them with polenta and a green vegetable. I hate to admit this but here goes... I’ve been cooking Italian dishes forever, love food from the North, South and in between, but have never made polenta before. Why? Well, I really have no idea; maybe it was from those years in the South when cornmeal was used for grits, something I thought of as a breakfast staple.
It was time to take this plunge and it was beyond easy — could easily become a dinner staple. I can imagine so many variations on a theme: Spices, cream, cheeses... heaven!
This dish was so simple, I would say less than an hour from start to finish, so it's a great weeknight meal for a busy family... or even me!
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and rosemary and sauté until softened, being careful not to brown, about 1 minute. Add the liquid ingredients, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and bring to a boil.
Gradually whisk in the cornmeal, being careful to break up any lumps that form. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until thick and creamy, stirring often, adding more milk if the mixture gets too thick, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the Parmesan, and season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.
Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper, to taste. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and then add the butter. Once the butter melts, add the rosemary and thighs, skin side up. Season with the nutmeg.
Cook until nicely browned on one side, about 5 minutes, and then turn over. Continue cooking until the skin side is golden brown and then flip it over again. Add the chicken stock and cook for 5-6 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer, add the rum, if using, and cover with a lid.
Cook for 20-25 minutes depending on size of the thighs. Occasionally, baste the chicken pieces with the pan liquids. Divide the polenta among 4 plates and top each with a piece of the chicken. Garnish each plate with sprigs of rosemary, and a few tomato and cucumber slices.