Chicken and Zucchini with Garlicky Tomato Sauce and Polenta

Ingredients

For the Polenta
2 cups water
1/2 cup instant polenta (pre-cooked cornmeal)
1/3 cup shredded provolone or mozzarella cheese
sea salt
For the Sauce, Chicken, and Zucchini
4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1/2 tsp sea salt, plus more, as desired
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
5 tbsp olive oil, divided
3 tbsp tomato paste
3/4 cup vegetable broth
flour, for dredging
1/2 tsp paprika
freshly ground black pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, each cut lengthwise into 4 strips (about 1 1/4 lbs total)
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch rounds

Preparation

1
Preheat the oven to 450° F.
2
Bring the water to a slight boil in a medium saucepan. Slowly stir in the polenta in a steady stream to prevent clumping. Continue stirring until the cornmeal thickens slightly, 1-2 minutes.
3
Reduce the heat to a simmer, stir in the cheese, and season with salt. Stir until the mixture is thick but still pourable, about 2 minutes.
4
Pour the polenta into a lightly oiled 8 X 8 baking pan and tilt it back and forth to create a smooth, even layer. Bake uncovered until barely golden on the outside and still creamy on the inside, 30 minutes. Remove and let cool 5 minutes before slicing.
5
To make the sauce, place the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and red pepper flakes in a shallow bowl. With the back of a fork, mash the ingredients together until the garlic is pasty. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and continue mashing until well blended.
6
Heat a medium skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat and add the garlic mixture. Cook 1 minute, stirring frequently, until very aromatic. Add the tomato paste and 2 tablespoons of oil to the skillet and stir 1 minute.
7
Add the vegetable broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer slowly 5 minutes. Cover and keep warm while the chicken cooks.
8
To prepare the chicken, combine the flour, paprika, salt, and pepper in a large, zip-top bag. Add the chicken and shake to coat well.
9
Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil. Shake any excess flour from the chicken strips and add to the skillet. (Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.)
10
Fry 4 minutes on 1 side, then turn and fry 3 minutes on the other side, until golden and just cooked through. Remove to a plate and let rest while the zucchini cooks.
11
Add the zucchini rounds to the drippings in the skillet and sear, stirring frequently, until crisp-tender, 3-4 minutes.
12
To serve, cut the polenta into 4 large squares (or 6 slices and save 2 for leftovers) and divide among plates. Lay 2 chicken strips over each and divide the zucchini among them. Spoon the tomato sauce over the chicken and polenta and serve right away.

About

Simple, lightly breaded chicken strips and pan-seared zucchini are dressed up with a flavorful tomato sauce loaded with garlic. Serve it over cakes of baked polenta for a warm, homey, and inviting dinner.

For extra photos and info on this recipe, visit The Briny Lemon blog at thebrinylemon.wordpress.com.

Yield:

Serves 4

Added:

January 12, 2012

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