ITALIAN CHICKEN GRAVY OVER POLENTA

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I hate to make this confession just as some of you might be perusing my site for the first time. But it’s said that “the truth shall set you free”, so here goes. I often get inspiration for new dishes from leftovers. (Wow – it feels really good to get that off my chest!) So now that I have scared half of you who are reading my blog for the first time, I need to tell you that this recipe is no exception.

So, when trying to figure out how best to serve some left-over Creamy Garlic & Rosemary Polenta (recipe on this site) a couple evenings ago, I decided that it would make a great base for some type of Italian inspired sauce or gravy. But I definitely didn’t want to overpower the taste of the savory polenta. What I wanted was a sauce or gravy that enhanced the flavors in the polenta. So I began to formulate just what it would take to make this happen. I thought for sure that using some of the same ingredients, in this case garlic, rosemary, and chicken stock would make a great beginning. I also felt that chicken breast meat would be perfect for the protein component. So I went on line to research recipes that included these ingredients. What I found was a great recipe from Rachael Ray that, with just a few changes here and there, would work perfectly. So the following recipe is the result.

Now I know what some of you are thinking. Patti, you look in your refrigerator and see leftover possibilities. I look in my refrigerator and often see little Tupperware containers whose contents closely resemble science projects. Well dear readers, over the years I too have created specimens that would make even the most inventive chemist envious. But as I’ve grown older, I have tried harder to use those last bits of this and that in a creative way. Left over taco meat? How about using the seasoned meat in a nice egg scramble for breakfast? Left over chicken? Cut it up and make a chicken Caesar salad. Left over pizza? Cold for breakfast. Duh!

And again, confession time. If I know darned well that I am never going to use that last bit of whatever, I throw it away immediately! I force myself to ignore my mother’s voice in my head that says “honey, you know there are starving children around the world who would do almost anything to eat those last 2 tablespoons of creamed peas!” Sure they would, mom. Especially after the peas would have to have been flown half way around the world to reach the starving children in the first place! (Where do mothers come up with this stuff?)

So, as a mother, grandmother, and great grandmother – I am formally giving you permission to leave your guilt behind and throw away any leftover food that you know in your heart of hearts will never pass anyone’s lips. (And no, good intentions don’t count towards sainthood or mother of the year status when you really know the food is not going to be eaten and you save it anyway.)

But if you do have a leftover that is reasonably likely to be eaten, do save it. Just give a little thought when you decide how best to serve it to your family. Change it up a bit so that no one guesses that you are serving them leftovers. Your family will be happy, and better yet, your mother will be ecstatic!

  • ½ c. small pieces dried porcini mushrooms, about ½-oz.
  • 2 c. chicken stock
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces   
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 T. flour, divided   
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil   
  • 1 T. unsalted butter
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced   
  • 6 sage leaves, chopped
  • ½ tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • ¼ c. dry white wine
  • 2 T. chopped fresh Italian parsley, garnish
  • Place the dried mushroom pieces and stock in a small pan over medium heat. Simmer gently until the mushroom pieces are soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Set aside.  Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the flour. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown on all sides. (Add a little more oil if necessary.) Remove cooked chicken to a plate; set aside.  Add the butter to the pan. When the butter foams, add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, sage, thyme, and rosemary; cook for about a minute. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons flour and cook for about a minute before adding the wine. Whisk in the rehydrated mushrooms and stock, being very careful not to include any grit that may have collected at the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer, add the cooked chicken, adjust seasoning, and cook until thick, about 3-4 minutes. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
    Best served over polenta sprinkled lightly with fresh parsley.

Please let me know if you like this recipe. Thanks