Winter Warmer: Chicken, Polenta, and Kale stew

Cold, rainy, wet, windy.  Chicago weather!  That’s what greeted me on the way to the grocery store today.  That’s right, our grocery shopping gets done on Mondays.  Being a real estate broker means you usually have some weekend work to do, like any service industry, so on Mondays I do some work from home in the morning and then run errands in the afternoon.  I like it actually because I’ve noticed grocery stores usually re-stock on Mondays so you get pretty fresh produce and meat.  And I can be in and out there really fast since everyone else is at the office.  It also enables me to shop to buy fresh ingredients for Monday night dinner so I don’t have to defrost anything.

Mondays are easy dinner nights.  Normally it’s a gym night for us so we need something that can be whipped up fairly quickly, set aside, and reheated when we get back.  Sometimes I roast a chicken early then quickly make some vegetables when we get back, or make sausage and peppers (since we just went to the gym this is totally acceptable), or make some soup/stew.  So today as I’m in the grocery store thinking about what to make for dinner, I remember something my mother wrote in an email over the weekend about how my step-father doesn’t like polenta.  Light bulb!  Today’s nasty weather is perfect for a stew made with polenta.

This stew is really good, and hearty, and perfect for winter.  Did you get any truffle salt or truffle gatherer sauce for Christmas?  Here is the perfect chance to use some!  If not, don’t worry, it stands up fine without those fancy ingredients.  You can probably make this multi-day stew for between $10-15 too.  I like to use boneless skinless chicken thighs in this stew as well.  Chicken thighs have a ton of flavor and they stay really juicy.  In this recipe I add the sliced and diced meat at the end and allow it to cook in the stew.  Never tried it without the chicken, but I suppose this would make a very good vegetarian dish if you left it out.

Chicken, Polenta, Kale Stew  (6-8 servings)

  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 carrot small dice
  • 1 celery stalk small dice
  • 1 medium onion small dice
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • 1 bunch of kale/8-10 leaves chopped
  • 10 C water
  • 1 C instant polenta (I know I know sacrilege, ease up though, you can’t find the real stuff in most supermarkets)
  • 1 lb boneless chicken thighs
  • Salt

For the kale, remove the really thick part of the stalk.  Slice the leaves into thin (½“ ribbons) and chop into bite size pieces.  Do the same with the chicken thighs.  You want small diced pieces.

In a large pot heat up the olive oil and butter over med-high heat.  When butter is melted add the diced carrot, onion, celery, and thyme to the pot and sauté for 5 mins. until soft.

Add sliced/chopped kale and cook until wilted.  Make sure to stir it around every few minutes to bring the bottom pieces up to the top.  It will cook quicker this way.

Once the kale has cooked down add the 10 C of water, salt to taste (yes yes, use your truffle salt), and bring to boil.  While stirring, slowly pour the polenta into the water in a thin stream.  Keep stirring until it is all mixed in.  Reduce heat to medium and allow to cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Bring stew to a boil and add the chicken pieces in.  Allow stew to simmer on a low boil for 5-10 minutes or until chicken pieces are cooked.  (Add some of that truffle gatherer sauce here if you want) Serve when chicken is cooked through.

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