10.5.12

Dinner for 12: Chicken with capers, polenta and brussels sprouts

table so dirty, they had to eat on boxes.
(Note: This entry languished for a little bit. I've got recipe catching up to do!)
Oof.
One of those weeks where we never caught our breath. One of those weeks where every last item stayed exactly where it was dropped while we ran to the next appointment, meeting or event, passing children and to-do lists to one another on the way out. It was the kind of week where I should have taken a pass, or ordered out. But no, instead I chose something "easy" and "quick" that I had never tried. A novice mistake. The polenta? Now that was quick. I love the method I present below, where you just mix the polenta and broth and cook it in the oven, no slaving over the stovetop. It's moist and creamy and e-a-s-y. The chicken was lovely, moist and with a depth of flavor that brine and butter can bring to anything. But pounding into cutlets pounds and pounds of chicken which then needs to be floured and sauteed with lots of room, so they don't feel crowded and get soggy? So not fast, trust me. It is, however, a great way to take out all your buried frustrations with a mallet.  Dinner eventually made it to everyone, just a couple of days late. And, sorry, not even half-assed pictures to share of this meal..

Sauteed Chicken with Capers
(Makes 12 servings. Adapted from Everyday Food)

10-12 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 6 pounds total)
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup champagne or white-wine vinegar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 tablespoons capers, plus 3 teaspoon brine
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  1. Slice each chicken breast in half horizontally. Place each half between sheets of plastic wrap and pound to an even thickness with a meat mallet or small skillet. Place flour on a plate. Season chicken with salt and pepper, then coat with flour, shaking off excess. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high. In batches, cook chicken until browned and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side (add remaining oil to pan, if necessary). Transfer to a platter and tent with foil.
  2. Add vinegar to pan and cook, scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon, 1 minute. Add butter and capers and brine; cook, stirring, until butter is melted. Season with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over chicken and top with parsley.

Oven Baked Polenta
(adapted from From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide To Cooking Farm Fresh Seasonal Produce)

3 cups polenta
12 cups chicken stock
3 tsp salt.

This is an infinitely easy recipe to replicate. Basically mix together 1 cup of polenta, 4 cups chicken broth and 1 tsp salt. Stir it together and bake in the oven at 350F for around 50 min or until the broth looks completely absorbed. This makes 4 servings. I make one of these for each family in a 1 quart casserole so I've tripled the recipe. You can make it in one big dish or individual dishes for each family as I do. It's all good.

I served this dish with sauteed burssels sprouts. The shredded brussels sprouts are a family staple in our house and if shredded with a food processor, can also be a quick side dish (I used 1.5 lbs of brussels sprouts, sauteed with one leek in olive oil with salt and pepper and a squirt of lemon to finish them off.).