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Wednesday, October 20

Cook Once, Eat Twice!!

I thought that today we'd do something a little different.  I know that, for many of you, there isn't always time to make a full meal every night.  Whether it's work, kid's activities, or just not being in the mood...sometimes you just can't, right?  Well, today I'm going to hand you a way to make 2 separate full meals from one simple recipe!!

Alright...show of hands...who loves chicken?  The recipes I have for you use chicken, which means economical...and tasty!!  First, we'll begin with a wonderful Chicken Cacciatore.  Then tomorrow, you can use the leftovers to make Chicken and Mushroom Polenta!!  Two completely different tastes from one dish?  Let's go!!!

CHICKEN CACCIATORE

4 pounds meaty chicken pieces (breast, thigh, and drumsticks), skinned
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 large onion, halved, then sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
3/4 cup dry white wine OR chicken broth
1 6oz can tomato paste
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups hot cooked fettuccine or linguine noodles

In a very large skillet, brown the chicken in hot oil over medium heat, about 15 minutes, turning to brown all sides.  Remove chicken, reserving drippings in skillet.  Set chicken aside.

Add mushrooms, onion, and garlic to skillet.  Cook and stir for 5 minutes, until onions are soft.  Return chicken to skillet.  In a large bowl, combine undrained tomatoes, wine OR broth, tomato paste, sugar, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.  Pour over chicken/veggie mixture in skillet.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30-35 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink (170 degrees for breasts, 180 degrees for thighs and drumsticks), turning once.

Remove half the chicken and sauce mixture to a storage container.  Allow to cool, then cover and chill for up to 3 days.  Serve remainder over prepared noodles, with a side salad.  Makes 4 main-dish servings.

CHICKEN AND MUSHROOM POLENTA

For Polenta:
1 cup regular yellow cornmeal
1 cup cold water OR chicken broth (if using broth, eliminate the salt)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shredded fontina cheese (you may substitute Gruyere or Provalone)

For Recipe:
1/2 recipe Chicken Cacciatore
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
4 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered (you can use regular mushrooms)
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized strips

Prepare Polenta:
In a medium saucepan, bring 2 3/4 cups water to boiling (this is OVER and ABOVE the water listed).  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together the cornmeal, 1 cup water, and salt.

Slowly add cornmeal mixture to the boiling water, stirring constantly.  Cook and stir until mixture returns to boiling.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook for 25-30 minutes, or until mixture is very thick and tender, stirring frequently and adjusting heat as needed to maintain a slow boil.  Remove from heat.  Stir the cheese into the polenta; cover and set aside. 

Meanwhile, remove chicken pieces from the Chicken Cacciatore, reserving sauce.  Remove the meat from the bones, and chop the chicken into bite-size pieces.  Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add zucchini, mushrooms, and bell pepper.  Saute for 3-4 minutes, or until veggies are tender.  Stir in chicken and reserved sauce.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.  Serve chicken mixture over warm polenta.  Makes 4-6 main-dish servings.

The total time to make the second meal is about 30 minutes, but your family will SWEAR you cooked all day!!  It's fairly easy to set up the sauce while the polenta is cooking, too...as long as you give the polenta a stir every few minutes, it won't burn or stick.  This is a WONDERFUL fall meal, too...something anyone would be proud to serve to their family!!  ENJOY!!!

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