Milk Poached Chicken with Fennel on Creamy Goat Cheese Polenta
I eat a lot of chicken. And I feel like I always make it the same way- as chicken cutlets or in stir fry. I decided to experiment and play with my chicken this week after reading about a few different techniques to get the most tender and delicious chicken around. When I was deciding what to serve it with, I wanted something besides pasta or bread, so I made polenta for the first time and mixed in my favorite cheese. I was a little scared to see if it would actually turn out, but after a lot of vigorous stirring and sweating over the stove, I had a creamy pot of goodness. Check out the recipes below!
For the Chicken:
Either a whole chicken or a few chicken breasts with rib meat
salt + pepper
1 bulb of fennel
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
a few cups of milk
a few sprigs of thyme
a cinnamon stick
whole star anise
For the Polenta:
1 cup of cornmeal or polenta
4 cups of milk
salt + pepper
Brown your chicken on all sides- it doesn’t have to cook the chicken significantly, it just has to turn it a nice golden brown. As you’re browning the chicken, start sauteing your shallots, garlic, and fennel in the bottom of a dutch oven (I diced my shallots, crushed my garlic, and sliced my fennel thinly). Once your chicken is done browning, add it to the dutch oven, and pour a few cups of milk over the top of the chicken- you can use part milk and part water as well if you do not have enough milk. Add your spices and lemon zest and bring to a boil. Cooking times will change depending on what type of chicken meat you go with- I used chicken breast and it was finished in 20-30 minutes. If you are using a whole chicken, you can finish by baking off in the oven.
While your chicken is poaching, bring four cups of water to a boil. Begin to stir the water to create a whirlpool effect, and slowly add one cup of cornmeal/polenta, stirring vigorously. Once the polenta is combined with the water and you don’t see it separate when you stop stirring, you can take a break. Let it bubble for a few minutes, then stir for a few minutes- it’s almost like risotto! You’ll want to cook the polenta until it is very thick- about 25-30 minutes. Once it is thick, add as much or as little goat cheese as you’d like, a parmesan rind or fresh grated parmesan, and salt and pepper. Stir all of this in well, and let the polenta rest for a few minutes before serving.
To go along with this dish, I also sauteed up some spinach and mushrooms. When serving, I scooped the polenta into a bowl, added a layer of spinach, and topped with the chicken and some fennel.