Braised Chicken with Creamy Polenta and Mushrooms

Tired of the same ho-hum side dishes – rice, pasta, potatoes, blahhhhh – I picked up a bag of coarse ground corn grits with the idea of making soft, creamy polenta. How hard could it be? It says right on the package how to do so. From there my imagination carried me into autumnal happy land, with visions of braised chicken with a flavorful pan sauce and tender mushrooms. The result was deeply flavored and I just knew it was going to be good because the house smelled heavenly. And then those words from my astute 6-year-old, “Did you make this up?” Doh. Busted. How did he know? It looked good. It smelled good. And damn it, I just knew it was going to taste good. Exasperated, I wondered how he knew. “How is it that you always know when I’ve made something up anyway?” The first taste hadn’t even crossed his pouty lips. “Because I didn’t see a recipe out, mama. It’s just that simple.” Oh. Okay then. And he proceeded to eat it all, as did his brother, father….and his mother.

    • For the polenta:
    • 3 cups water
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 cup coarse ground corn grits
    • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    • Several generous cranks of freshly ground black pepper


  • For the chicken and mushrooms:
  • 2 bone-in chicken breasts with skin
  • 2 chicken leg and thigh pieces with skin
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 6 oz. fresh sliced mushrooms

  • Start by preparing the polenta. Bring the water and salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the corn grits in a slow, steady stream while stirring with a long-handled spoon. Turn the heat down to low and simmer while stirring every so often. The polenta may bubble and sputter a bit, but stirring with help mitigate this. Continue cooking polenta over low heat for about 30 minutes, or until reasonably thick. Stir in the Parmesan and season with pepper.
  • Meanwhile, sprinkle both sides of the chicken pieces generously with salt and pepper. Warm the olive oil and the butter over medium heat in a large skillet over with high sides and a tight fitting lid. When the butter is melted, add the chicken pieces skin side down. They should sizzle as they hit the hot pan. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the skin is nicely browned. Turn chicken pieces over and brown the other side for another few minutes. Once chicken is golden on all sides, add the garlic cloves, thyme, white wine and broth to the pan, reduce the heat to medium low and cover. The liquid should be bubbling rapidly and steam should begin to fill the pan. Allow chicken to cook over medium low for about 20 minutes, or until the thickest part of the breast meat is just cooked through. Transfer the chicken pieces and thyme to a large plate, then cover with aluminum foil to rest while you work on the mushrooms.
  • Turn the heat up to high. Scrape up the browned bits in the pan. You should have about 1/4 cup of flavorful pan juices that will begin to boil. Add the mushrooms to the pan, stirring frequently. Allow the mushrooms to cook in the flavorful broth. When the mushrooms are tender and the liquid has boiled off a bit and thickened, remove the pan from the heat. Skim off any fat that has separated, taking care to retain any flavorful juices just beneath the oily surface.
  • Serve the polenta topped with chicken and mushrooms. Drizzle the pan juices over the top and garnish with additional fresh thyme.
  • Quick Tips
  • 1. I used corn grits by Bob’s Red Mill and followed the preparation directions from the package.
  • 2. The amount of salt in your pan sauce is highly dependent upon how generously you salt the chicken breasts. If you are too easy on the salt, your sauce will lack flavor. Of course, if you are too heavy handed the sauce will be salty. Easy does it.

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time: 30 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

3 responses to “Braised Chicken with Creamy Polenta and Mushrooms”

  1. Rebecca says:

    I have loved your recipes for over a year … however, a 1/2 cup of kosher salt? Really? I didn’t follow this based on my little cooking skills, however, the polenta was still way too salty. I didn’t add any salt to the rest of the chicken/mushrooms/etc — Just wanted to make sure you adjusted this for future users.

    • Alicia says:

      Oh no! That’s an error for sure. So sorry. That should say 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. No wonder your polenta was way too salty. I’ll fix this now. Thanks for the catch!

  2. Sabrina says:

    I made this last night and it was awesome. I didn’t have white wine, so I used red and it was wonderful!

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