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Monday, April 18, 2022

Pepper Thyme Chicken over Polenta with Bitter Greens, from Laurie Colwin

Pepper Thyme Chicken over Polenta with Bitter Greens, from Laurie Colwin. Don't let this delicious platter of chicken fool you, there is nothing complicated about this dish! 


A few years back, while at home on sick leave, I grew bored with resting and decided to take a look at Abe's books, (not an aff. link) and before I knew it, I began to order a few books.......mostly Laurie Colwin novels. I had enjoyed reading Home Cooking, a writer in the kitchen, and knew that for more great reading, I should stock up! That is when I learned that she had a second cookbook. At this time I am still on the hunt for a hardback edition of More Home Cooking, A Writer Returns to the Kitchen. 

Just like one does at the food market, I also stock up when I buy books, yarn, and things for the new grandson.....

Currently, I am reading one of her novels, Family Happiness. There is a comfortable sameness about her writing whether she is explaining a character or a recipe, and I have found that I like it very much. Regarding her recipes they are more like a tutorial, allowing the home cook to cook with what they have, which is right up my alley. 
I had already made her Pot Roast which was delicious, and couldn't wait to make Pepper Thyme Chicken over Polenta with Bitter Greens


I only ran into one problem, when I went to my local market, they were out of Broccoli Rabe. To continue on I substituted spinach and it was quite good, but I cannot wait to make this with the Broccoli Rabe. I have given the directions from the recipe for using Broccoli Rabe because I hope your marketplace offers up the produce you need when you are shopping for Laurie Colwin recipes! The only other solution is to keep an eye out for the coveted ingredient and go home immediately and make Pepper Thyme Chicken over Polenta with Bitter Greens!

I have to say, this might be the absolute best way to cook chicken thighs! They are flavorful, and so tender the meat just falls off the bone. Even the substituted spinach is wonderful with the polenta and pan gravy. I might be so bold as to suggest you use both Broccoli Rabe and spinach. Because you can never put too many vegetables on the table for family and friends to enjoy... 


Some thoughts on this recipe:

As presented this dish hides the fact that this is component cooking at its best! The chicken, the polenta, and the greens are all cooked separately. 

Then a simple layering of the different components brings together all the flavors onto one beautiful platter of food to offer to family and friends. 

Proof that delicious food does not have to be difficult! Which makes it my favorite kind of food. 


Ingredients needed for this recipe:
  • chicken 
  • polenta
  • bitter greens
  • thyme
  • fresh ground pepper
  • crushed red pepper
  • salt
  • garlic 
  • butter
  • brown sugar
You will also need the following:
  • a large flat pan
  • kitchen knife
  • measuring spoons
  • serving platter
Now we are ready to begin!



Pepper Thyme Chicken over Polenta with Bitter Greens
adapted from:  Home Cooking, a writer in the kitchen

1 chicken, cut into 8 equal pieces OR 8 large chicken thighs (with bone and skin) about 3 pounds

1 scant T dried thyme, finely crumbled
scant 1/8 t fresh ground black pepper ( if you want, use more)
1 rounded T brown sugar
1/2 t salt*
1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes (again, if you like, use more)

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T butter cut into 8 pieces

Cooked polenta for 6-8 servings

2 bunches of Broccoli Rabe or a large bag of spinach leaves

Combine the crumbled thyme, black pepper, red pepper, brown sugar, and salt if used to make a dry rub. Sprinkle over both sides of the chicken. 


Place chicken pieces in a single layer in a pan large enough to have 1/2 space around each piece. Let rest at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350, sprinkle the chicken with the minced garlic and dot with the butter. Bake the chicken for 1 1/2 hours or until the chicken is very tender and the skin is crisp.

While the chicken is baking, cook the polenta in the usual manner you prefer or according to package directions. 

When the polenta is done, add a knob of butter, stirring well. Cover and keep warm. 


When ready to serve, you may need to thin the polenta by stirring in a few tablespoons of boiling water and whisk until smooth. If you prefer your polenta stiffer, you may skip this step.

Prepare the broccoli rabe by removing any tough lower leaves, wash well. Steam gently until bright green and the stems are tender (but not mushy). Drain well, set aside.

For those serving with spinach, simply saute the spinach with a touch of olive oil until wilted and bright green. Set aside. 

To serve:

Pour or spoon the polenta onto a large serving platter, surround it with the greens, and place chicken on top of the greens in a decorative pattern.

From the drippings in the pan, skim off and discard all but 2 T of the chicken fat. Take a whisk and bring together the contents of the pan, scraping brown bits off the bottom and sides of the pan. Pour over the polenta in the middle of the platter.


* Laurie Colwin was a salt-free cook, the addition of the salt is my own. While we do not cook with a lot of salt in this house, for our family I felt these additions were needed. If you are a salt-free cook, feel free to omit it.

Cooks Note:  The recipe calls for Broccoli Rabe, a delicious, bitter vegetable that can be hard to find. I love it, but unfortunately, our fresh market was out when I shopped for this recipe. Rather than not make this lovely dish, I substituted spinach and although it is mild with spinach, it was still a wonderful dish.

Storage options for Pepper Thyme Chicken over Polenta with Bitter Greens. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to three days. Do not freeze. 


UPDATE:  For your convenience, a "copy and paste" version of Pepper Thyme Chicken over Polenta with Bitter Greens has been included below. 

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Printable "copy and paste" version:

Pepper Thyme Chicken over Polenta with Bitter Greens
adapted from:  Home Cooking, a writer in the kitchen

1 chicken, cut into 8 equal pieces OR 8 large chicken thighs (with bone and skin) about 3 pounds

1 scant T dried thyme, finely crumbled
scant 1/8 t fresh ground black pepper ( if you want, use more)
1 rounded T brown sugar
1/2 t salt*
1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes (again, if you like, use more)

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T butter cut into 8 pieces

Cooked polenta for 6-8 servings

2 bunches of Broccoli Rabe

Combine the crumbled thyme, black pepper, red pepper, brown sugar, and salt if used to make a dry rub. Sprinkle over both sides of the chicken. 

Place chicken pieces in a single layer in a pan large enough to have 1/2 space around each piece. Let rest at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350, sprinkle the chicken with the minced garlic and dot with the butter. Bake the chicken for 1 1/2 hours or until the chicken is very tender and the skin is crisp.

While the chicken is baking, cook the polenta in the usual manner you prefer or according to package directions. 

When the polenta is done, add a knob of butter, stirring well. Cover and keep warm. 

When ready to serve, you may need to thin the polenta by stirring in a few tablespoons of boiling water and whisk until smooth. If you prefer your polenta stiffer, you may skip this step.

Prepare the broccoli rabe by removing any tough lower leaves, wash well. Steam gently until bright green and the stems are tender (but not mushy). Drain well, set aside.

For those serving with spinach, simply saute the spinach with a touch of olive oil until wilted and bright green. Set aside. 

To serve:

Pour or spoon the polenta onto a large serving platter, surround it with the greens, and place chicken on top of the greens in a decorative pattern.

From the drippings in the pan, skim off and discard all but 2 T of the chicken fat. Take a whisk and bring together the contents of the pan, scraping brown bits off the bottom and sides of the pan. Pour over the polenta in the middle of the platter.

* Laurie Colwin was a salt-free cook, the addition of the garlic salt and sea salt are my own. While we do not cook with a lot of salt in this house, for our family I felt these additions were needed. If you are a salt-free cook, feel free to omit it.

Cooks Note:  The recipe calls for Broccoli Rabe, a delicious, bitter vegetable that can be hard to find. I love it, but unfortunately, our fresh market was out when I shopped for this recipe. Rather than not make this lovely dish, I substituted spinach and although it is mild with spinach, it was still a wonderful dish.

Storage options for Pepper Thyme Chicken over Polenta with Bitter Greens. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to three days. Do not freeze. 

~~~~

Would you like to comment?

  1. Melynda, this sounds super delicious, thanks for sharing!
    It's not often that I see an American recipe that includes Polenta. I live i Switzerland, and in the Italian speaking part this is a staple.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am a Laurie Colwin fan, but this recipe caught my eye because of the Polenta. It is a favorite of mine.

      Delete
  2. This looks great. I haven't had polenta in a long time. I will have to check this out. Thank you for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dominique, you are so welcome! Thanks for stopping by.

      Delete
  3. This looks so delish and I want to eat it now. Thank you for sharing

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anything with polenta is a favorite around here. Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  4. I've never cooked with polenta. This dish looks so good! Thanks for linking up at the Making a Home - Homemaking Link Up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Linda, you are welcome, thanks so for hosting! Have a great week ahead.

      Delete
  5. Sounds good!! Thanks so much for linking up at the Crafty Creators Link Party 15. Pinned.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I do like polenta and often forget about making it . Your dinner looks delicious with the polenta base.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I could eat polenta more often, but for some reason I forget to cook it!...Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

      Delete
  7. That's a recipe I will save. Love all the ingredients. Laurie Colwin had some good books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She is a favorite of mine, and this recipe is so much easier than the presented platter of food appears!

      Delete
  8. I had to go and google Broccoli Rabe. Pretty sure you can't get that here!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marg, it is hard to find here as well. Sometimes I have to remember she lived in New York with many different ethnic markets to choose from. I don't have that option in rural Montana. But I must say, the spinach is a great substitute until I can find the broccoli rabe. Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  9. This looks so yummy . I was not expecting the brown sugar . I never make polenta. I am a big fan of broccoli rabe. Pinning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The brown sugar adds a caramel flavor without sweetness. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we did, thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

      Delete
  10. Sounds like a satisfying meal - and it looks so delicious!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks for sharing at the What's for Dinner party. Hope you have a fabulous week!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, I appreciate sharing our recipes with your readers!

      Delete
  12. Thanks for sharing with us at the To Grandma's house we go link party - I'll be featuring you this week when the next party starts!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks so much for sharing your awesome post with us on Full Plate Thursday, 585! Hope you are having a great week and come back to see us soon.
    Miz Helen

    ReplyDelete
  14. This chicken dish looks great. Congratulations, you are being featured on Thursday Favorite Things. I hope you stop by. https://www.eclecticredbarn.com/2022/04/thursday-favorite-things-party_01793040934.html
    Hugs,
    Bev

    ReplyDelete

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