Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Good but Almost Ruined by a Rookie Mistake

I used curly parsley as the leafy green tonight but made the mistake of briefly rinsing it rather than giving it a good wash. GRIT!! Blech. The food was yummy but the occasional crunch of grit was disconcerting. Next time, the curly parsley will be treated to the same thorough cleaning as celery and leeks! Lots of soaking and swishing.

But the otherwise delicious dish at right is chicken and mushrooms over cheese polenta (corn meal mush). If you've saved a few cheese shavings, sprinkle these on top.

Ingredients (for two servings):
  • Cooked chicken from one largish breast half, boned and cut into smallish chunks
  • 2 Tbl. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup or more coarsely sliced or chopped mushrooms
  • 1 large shallot or small mild onion, julienned
  • 1/2 jalapeño or other hot pepper, seeds removed and inner membrane removed, then diced. Delete or add more to suit your taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped, oil packed sun-dried tomatoes or sun-dried tomato pesto. I used Classico Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
  • 1/4 cup white wine or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • salt, pepper and nutmeg
  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan
  2. Sauté the mushrooms, shallot and jalapeño
  3. Add the chicken and sun-dried tomatoes or pesto and heat through
  4. Add the parsley and wine or broth. Simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
While the chicken mixture cooks, make the polenta (corn meal mush)
  1. In a medium sauce pan, bring the water to a boil. Slowly pour in the cornmeal, whisking constantly.
  2. As soon as most of the lumps are gone, turn off the heat and whisk in the cheese.
  3. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.
Serve the chicken over the polenta. Warm, tasty, with a little bite from the jalapeño. Hopefully, yours won't be gritty! Ours won't next time. Lesson learned.


  1. A humble suggestion:

    Skip the curly parsley. Always use flat leaf parsley. Its sweeter and cleaner. Its also delicious as a salad when tossed in a lemony vinaigrette with some feta and black olives. Yum!

  2. Thanx, Heather. Most of the time I agree with you and use flat leaf parsley but sometimes I just want the hardy flavor of the curly stuff. I consider the two parsleys to be quite different veggies and I buy them both. To me, they are as different from each other in flavor as they are from cilantro. All three are darn tasty leaves.

    Since many of us grew up thinking parsley was a decoration or only came in flake form in jars, fresh flat leaf parsley was a revelation. As you said, a sweeter, cleaner taste than the curly stuff, which can be bitter. It never overpowers as the curly stuff can do.


Imprecise & Inexpensive

Two themes predominate in my approach to cooking. 1. Daily cooking of flavorful food need not be a precise art. 2. You can be an adventurous cook on a budget. Cooking and eating should be fun for both cookers and eaters.