Thursday, November 09, 2006

Barefoot Contessa's Parmesan Chicken & Rosemary Polenta

Last year we had the nicest grocery store open up right across the way from our home. I was thrilled to say the least. Upon entering it was apparent that this market was different than the usuals...each department had it's own separate room. for instance there were rooms for Baking, Seafood, Canned Goods, Bakery, Deli, Meats, Baby, Laundry, etc. They carried quality goods, however they came at a quality price. Needless to say most shoppers were more price-conscience than quality conscience and went elsewhere. So, this market, one of the few places that carried fresh mozzarella, parmigiano-reggiano, quality baked breads, and made to order sushi closed it's doors. I was so disappointed that I refused to go to the closeout sale, and I sent my husband instead. I remember him calling me while in the store reporting how the shelves were half barren and did I want whole wheat flour because there were a couple of bags left. Sad. All summer I've been trekking to another market miles away to get needed goods...and turning away as I drove past the old building that was no longer alive. Partway into the summer months I learned that another grocer had purchased the building. My spirits were lifted a bit, knowing that we would once again have something closeby, although I was sure it wouldn't be the same. For the past few months I actually brought myself to drive by the old store to spy in the windows hoping for some progress. Then, at last, I noticed a sign go up, then a job fair, and then a sign marking the opening day. For weeks I've been waiting...and finally it came. Wednesday the new store opened it's doors and it didn't take long for me to make my way there.
Walking in I was apprehensive, but as I peeked in the windows I could see that almost everything looked the same in terms of structure. A little relief set in and I continued on and was thrilled to see how much of the old store was still intact, and that it may even be an improvement. Things had been organized slightly different to accomodate additional products and the organic section was moved across the store...but the deli was spectacular. I've never seen a selection of meats and cheeses quite like it. As I made my way through the store I was pleased to find out that it was actually started by an Italian family and they import many goods from overseas. They also offer a huge amount of freshly made products such as fresh ricotta, fresh desserts, breads, arrancini (these are cooked balls of breaded risotto...I tried my hand at these last month...I didn't write a post so you can imagine how that experiment went), pannatone, etc. It was remarkable. I actually returned later in the day, after the crowds died down, to take a second look. The second time was even more pleasing than the first and I feel a sense of happiness after months of feeling a small heartache.
Here is our celebratory meal.

Parmesan Chicken
Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style

3 boneless, skinless chicken cutlets
3 T all-purpose flour
1/2 t kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan chesse
Unsalted butter
Olive oil
Salad greens
Lemon Vinaigrette (1 squeezed lemon, 1/4 c olive oil, salt and pepper.)

1. Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on a dinner plate. On a second plate, beat the egg with 1 T water. On a third plate, combine the bread crumbs and cheese. Coat the chicken in flour, then dip into the egg mixture, and finally dredge both sides in the bread crumb mixture. Heat 1 T of butter and 1 T of olive oil in a large saute pan and cook the chicken breasts on medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
Toss the salad greens with the vinaigrette. Place a mound of salad on each hot chicken breast. Serve with extra grated Parmesan Cheese.

Rosemary Polenta
adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style

1/4 stick unsalted butter
2 T c olive oil
2 t minced garlic
1/4 t crushed pepper flakes
1 t minced fresh rosemary
1/2 t kosher salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
1 c chicken stock
3/4 c half-and-half
3/4 c milk
3/4 c cornmeal
1/4 c Paresan Cheese
Flour, olive oil, and butter, for fying

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Saute for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock, half-and-half, and milk and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly sprinkle the cornmeal into the hot milk while stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for a few minutes, until thicken and bubbly. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan. Pour into an 8 X 8 pan and refrigerate until firm and cold.
Cut the chilled polenta into 4 squares. Make a diagonal cut through each one. Dust each triangle with flour. Heat 1 T butter and 1 T olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Cook the polenta for 3-5 minutes or until browned on each side.

We really enjoyed this meal...although I was partial to dipping my polenta in ketchup, much to my husband's disgust!

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