A Mediterranean influenced chicken braised with tomatoes and dry-cured Spanish Serrano ham warms your table with sunshine and flavor. Serve with easy to prepare polenta — better known as corn grits in Southern cuisine — for a quick side that can be prepared while the chicken is simmering.
Chicken with Tomatoes, Serrano and Polenta Recipe
4 bone-in chicken thighs with skin
1 T minced fresh sage leaves, from about 4 leaves
4 T extra virgin olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup low salt chicken broth
1 cup tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
Preparation Note: since it’s tomato season in my garden, I used fresh ones but you may substitute with one 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes. To quickly peel fresh tomatoes, heat a pot full of water to boiling. Place ice and water in a large bowl nearby. Cut out the tomato stems and cut a shallow X on the opposite end. Immerse several tomatoes at a time in boiling water for about one minute, or until the skin begins to pucker. Remove to ice water bath with slotted spoon. Repeat with remaining tomatoes as necessary. Peel skin off cooled tomatoes, slice and remove seeds with a spoon. Dice and continue with recipe.
1/4 lb Serrano ham (about 3 slices), slivered
Note: Serrano ham is similar to Italian prosciutto because both utilize the ages old dry-cure method for processing. Serrano (from the mountains in Spain) and the more familiar Italian prosciutto are both salted, rinsed and then hung to dry for varying amounts of time. Serrano typically dries longer than prosciutto and has a more intense, richer taste. Often served alone as appetizers, they can be combined with other meats, such as the braised chicken here, for added rich flavor. They are different from hams cured in the United States in that they don’t utilize nitrates, nitrites and sodium.
Serrano ham is available in larger grocery stores in the deli section, and specialty meats stores.
2 cups corn grits (polenta)(Bob’s Red Mill Corn Grits are a good brand)
6 cups water
1 tsp salt
3 T butter
Heat water and salt in large pot to boil. Slowly stir in corn grits with a wooden spoon. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until mixture thickens. It will bubble and burns easily, so continue to stir, for about 30 minutes, or less if it’s thickened. Stir in butter.
Spray a square pan with oil (or rub oil onto it). Scrape polenta into pan, smoothing the top. Let set for 10 minutes. Cut into squares. Makes about 8 portions.
For Chicken and Tomatoes:
Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
Warm olive oil in large, deep skillet over medium heat. Increase heat to medium-high and add sage. Stir for 15 seconds, watching as it “hops.”
Place chicken thighs skin side down in skillet and brown until skin is crisped and deeply colored and thighs easily release from the pan, about 4 minutes. Brown other side for about 3 minutes, or until no longer red. Remove chicken to clean plate.
Add white wine to skillet and increase heat to boil, scraping up browned bits (the fond). Continue on medium boil until liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup.
Add broth, tomatoes and Serrano ham to skillet. Bring to boil then reduce to simmer. Return chicken and any juices that have accumulated on the plate to the skillet. Cover and simmer on low for 30 minutes, until chicken is tender and sauce has thickened slightly.
Serves 2. Can be doubled easily.
Wine personality Stephanie Davis puts together all the beverage pairings for Feeding the Famished. Steph says that despite the ease of preparation and comfort quality of this dish, it is classy, deserving a Chardonnay with style. She and podcast cohort, Valerie Caruso on Wine-Two-Five, recently described it as a Chardonnay wearing red lipstick and pearls. Even if you’re not a fan of Chardonnay, they think you’ll be impressed with the precision and balance on this wine.
Villa Maria Taylors Pass Vineyard Chardonnay, $43/bottle.
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Award-winning author Emily Kemme writes about human nature, illuminating the everyday in a way that highlights its brilliance. Follow her on her blog, Feeding the Famished, https://www.facebook.com/EmilyKemme, or on Twitter @EmFeedsYou . Life inspired. Vodka tempered.
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