Monday, September 5, 2011

Clipped Recipe: Chicken with Fennel and "Kiss my Polenta!"

Chicken with Italian Sweet-Sour Fennel
We had a fabulous dinner this weekend inspired by "Cooking Light" magazine. The recipe was for Chicken with Italian Sweet-Sour Fennel. I love fennel and up until about a year ago, it was completely foreign to me. If you like black licorice, like I do, you will love fennel. However, you don't even have to love black licorice, like my husband, to like fennel. I first used it in Ina Garten's Perfect Roast Chicken. I then used it in a lovely salad recipe. I have usually used just the bulb of the plant, but recently learned that fronds (the top green parts) have a lovely anise flavor too. They also made for a lovely garnish. I used sweetened dried cranberries instead of raisins and doubled the pine nuts, which I then proceeded to almost burn, but caught them just in time.

Our Chicken with Fennel Dinner
The magazine had a couple of simple side recipes to go with the chicken. Because I had some leftovers and was lacking other ingredients, I improvised and came up with my own recipes. The first was for the green beans. Earlier in the week I made up a batch of balsamic vinaigrette dressing for salads and had a bunch leftover, so I decided it would be great on green beans. Balsamic Bacon Green Bean Salad is the resulting dish.

As for the polenta, I didn't have cream cheese, but I did have Parmesan and fresh garlic, so Parmesan Garlic Polenta was invented. I've recently discovered the joy of polenta, a great alternative to mashed potatoes as a side. I grew up eating Cream of Wheat, the ultimate comfort food for breakast, and polenta is very similar. It is almost the same as grits, just a slight difference in the type of corn that is used in Italy (polenta) versus the South (grits). There may also be differences in the grind of the cornmeal. I couldn't find instant or quick-cooking polenta at my store, so I used Quaker Quick Grits, which can be found near the oatmeal. For people with less discerning tastes in regards to cornmeal, it is a perfectly acceptable substitution, in my humble opinion. Since I explained this to my incredibly mature husband, he's been running around saying, "Kiss my polenta!" (for you young'uns, it's from the TV show "Alice".....)

Balsamic Bacon Green Bean Salad
(This is not a low-FODMAP recipe)
serves 4

1 lb. fresh green beans, rinsed and trimmed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. real bacon bits; or 2 slices cooked, crumbled bacon
2 Tbsp. sliced almonds, toasted

1. In a large saucepan, bring the green beans and a small amount of water to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer, about 5 minutes. Drain green beans into a colander and rinse with
cold water, until beans are cool.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, honey, mustard and pepper. Pour over green beans and toss with bacon and almonds. Serve. This dish can be made ahead of time and refrigerated before serving.

Parmesan Garlic Polenta
(This is not a low-FODMAP recipe)
serves 4

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups milk
1 cup water
¾ cup quick-cooking polenta or grits
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

 In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in milk and water and bring to a boil, being careful to not let the mixture overflow. Stir in the polenta or grits, salt and pepper and simmer for about 5 minutes, until thickened, stirring frequently. Stir in Parmesan cheese and serve.

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