Sunday, February 12, 2012

Chili Chicken Sauce

Here is an excellent example of how to cook with what you have. I made salsa over the weekend, but even after giving some away I had more than I needed. I did not want to buy chips so I thought about what I could make to go with it that would constitute a meal, not a snack.

My answer? Oven-baked three-cheese polenta. I love this method of making polenta. It is so simple, and comes out perfectly every time. And, it allowed me to go back to using regular cornmeal instead of the much more expensive instant polenta I was buying to avoid having to stir that thick, gloopy mixture for 45 minutes. If you haven't tried this method, you really should. I will be forever grateful to Sarah Moulton for sharing this recipe on her show "Sarah's Secrets for Weeknight Meals." It has changed my cooking life.

It made for a decent dinner, if not an incredibly exciting one. And then we had our monthly lunch at work, which left us with a mountain of leftovers, some of which was grilled Greek chicken with lemon and oregano flavors. There was so much chicken left over, as a matter of fact, that there was still some left on Friday. I took it home with me, thinking that if nothing else I could make stock with the bones.

But the chicken was still good and I started thinking about ways I could use it. I also had leftover pureed tomatoes in the refrigerator and fresh cilantro in the vegetable crisper. Add those to the polenta and salsa, and I realized I had the makings for a tomato-based Mexican-inspired sauce that would be the perfect complement for the polenta and salsa. The lemon and oregano seasonings on the chicken would also complement a Mexican-themed dish.

The result was delicious, and turned a decent meal into a fantastic meal. This sauce is full of flavor, and would work just as well over rice, pasta, tortillas. In fact, it would make some killer enchiladas.
Home Cookin Chapter: My Recipes

Makes 6 servings

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons oregano
1 28-oz can tomatoes, cushed, diced or whole
1 pound cooked chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for a minute or two, then add the garlic. Continue to cook until the onions are translucent. Add the cumin and cook, stirring constantly,
for a minute, being careful not to burn the cumin. Add the tomatoes, oregano, and salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until the mixture has thickened.

Add the chicken and continue to cook until it is heated through. Add the cilantro and remove from the heat.

Serve over polenta, topped with salsa and garnished with more cilantro, if desired.


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