Recipes from my January Meetup

cacciatore and polenta
Tuesday night was my first cooking class Meetup of the year. We had a great turnout with some regulars and some newcomers. The food was delicious, and we had a great time eating and watching the innaugural balls while we ate. We made Chicken Cacciatore (a la Valerie), Creamy Herb Polenta, and Fennel & Apple Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette.

Chicken Cacciatore
Serves 6 Prep time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 50 minutes

1 whole Chicken, cut into 8 pieces
Salt & pepper to taste
Flour for dredging
Olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 28oz. can San Marzano tomatoes, chopped, with their juice
1 cup sliced green olives
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chicken stock

  • Coat the bottom of a heavy skillet with olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Season chicken with salt & pepper and dredge in flour. Brown in oil on both sides, then remove to a plate.
  • Add onions to pan, season with a little salt and cook till soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, juice, olives, wine and stock and bring to a boil. Nestle chicken pieces into sauce with any juice on dish, and about a tablespoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper
  • Cover and simmer very gently for about a half hour. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. If sauce is too thin, remove chicken and reduce sauce over high heat for about 5 minutes. Serve with creamy herb polenta.

Creamy Herb Polenta
Serves 6-8 Prep time: 5 minutes Cooking time: 20-30 minutes

1 1/2 cups polenta
6 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
1 bunch sage
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano

  • Bring stock to a boil in a large pot, then add salt. Make a whirlpool in center with a whisk and slowly pour polenta into center. Turn heat down to a low simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for about 20-30 minutes until tender to the bite.
  • While polenta cooks, gently heat cream and herbs in a small pot.
  • When polenta is done, strain herbs out of cream and stir cream into polenta. Stir in butter and cheese. Taste and add salt if necessary.

fennel and apple saladFennel & Apple Salad
Serves 6 Prep time: 15 minutes

2 Granny Smith Apples
1-2 Fennel bulbs
1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles
1/4 cup toasted pecans
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 small shallot, chopped very fine
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  • Put lemon juice, zest, shallot, salt and pepper in a salad bowl. Whisk in olive oil.
  • Slice apples and fennel on a mandoline on a very thin setting (or slice very thinly with a sharp knife) and place immediately into vinaigrette to prevent discoloration. Add cheese and pecans and toss to combine.


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