I think I am homesick… I have been missing my family a lot lately. This past few days have been so rainy and gray that I started craving some good comfort food. And one of the best comfort foods my mom makes is Polenta with Stewed Chicken. As polenta I mean the soft kind, and there is something about it that makes even my heart warm!
My grandmother used to make it for the whole family, a big nice pot of creamy polenta in the center of the table and everybody gathered around. Next to it a pan with the best chicken stew, full of flavor, perfectly seasoned, made with a free-range bird that probably came from one of the neighbor’s chicken collection. Oh my, talk about tasty! My mom then would make the same dish at our home, and hers was just as good, the polenta so creamy and delicious and the chicken also divine!
And I don’t know what they both have been hiding from me, but I still cannot get the same flavors when I try to make the chicken myself. It still comes out very good, but there must be something I am missing because the sauce does not come out quite the same, or maybe the fact that someone else made it for you makes it even better and more special, yes, I guess that is it!
I was craving polenta with chicken, but what I really wanted was to ask my mom to make it for me… if only I could go to one place today, that would definitely be my mother’s kitchen, and there I would be mom, and my dad, and my sister, all waiting for me to eat polenta together!
Well, unfortunately all this would not be possible, so I made some polenta for us today, and boy it was good!! It did satisfy my cravings, bringing me back some wonderful memories like no other food could ever do.
I ended up not making the chicken, but made some fresh tomato sauce to go with the polenta, using a bunch of tomatoes that we got from the garden this past week (probably the last bunch, and I was actually surprised to see such bounty this time of the year), and we had it all with roasted chicken. Not quite my ideal for a polenta meal (I missed the stewed chicken), but still it was good, and the polenta came out just as I wanted it to.
I did not use a recipe for the tomato sauce; I sautéed some onions and garlic in olive oil, pureed in the blender a bunch of tomatoes and added them to the pan. Seasoned with salt and pepper and simmered until the flavors were concentrated and the sauce reduced down. At the end I added some fresh chopped parsley, just to brighten up the flavor.
The polenta however I always make the way my mom taught me to! It is the easiest and simplest thing, but you need to have a pressure cooker… that is the only way I make polenta, and here it is how it works: the ratio is for every cup of cornmeal you will need 4 cups of water. (polenta can be made in a normal pot, but you need to stir constantly and as it boils it also splaters all around the stove and makes a huge mess...!)
My mom's Polenta: In the pressure cooker bring to a boil 2 cups of water with 1-tablespoon butter and 1 cube of bouillon (vegetable, chicken, beef, whatever you prefer). In a bowl combine 2 cups of water and 1 cup of cornmeal, whisk together until the cornmeal dissolves. Slowly add the cornmeal mixture to the boiling water in the pan, mixing constantly with a wooden spoon so it won’t lump up. Close the pressure cooker and cook it for 30 minutes at medium heat (start counting the time as soon as the cooker gets pressure – making that “tchu tchu” noise). You can double the recipe, and in that case my mom says you should cook it for 40 minutes. Easy, simple and delicious!
Some people add butter and grated cheese to the hot polenta. However, my mom used to make it the simplest way and that is how I like to eat, but definitely feel free to improve the flavors of the polenta yourself, as butter and cheese makes everything even tastier and creamier.
That is it for today, but come back to visit because I have a nice new recipe to share. It is still cooling in the counter so I will post the recipe and picture tomorrow. Until then I will give you a sneak peak… can you guess what it is?