Chicken over Polenta
with Peach Jalapeño Glaze 


Granted, there are a few moving parts behind the construction of this dish, but dang, it’s worth it. It’s not labor-intensive in a Thanksgiving dinner kind of way, but sure, you can count on a little prep work. I plan ahead and prep things early in the day.  For example, I use a gluten-free polenta from the Bob’s Mill line, and this particular polenta reheats beautifully. By beautifully, I mean smooth.  You’ll never guess that it’s gluten free either, which is a triple plus in my book. The broccolini is cleaned early on and so it’s ready to go hours before dinner time. So you get the idea here, do a little bit of work throughout the day, here and there, and when it’s time to cook and plate, things go smooth … like butter.  


So, you might be wondering what the green stuff is, on top of the chicken breast.  It is an absolutely wonderful, Israeli condiment known as Zchug.  You’ll come across multiple spellings of this wonder topping internet-wide, but I first experienced it in Portland, OR as Zchug, and so, I’m sticking with that label.


Overall, Zchug is not hot and spicy, it simply possesses a smooth bit of zing.  I am not a fan of super hot, spicy food and so, I assure you it’s not some 3-alarm nightmare.  Of course, you might be such a heat devotee and so, I’ll make suggestions to increase the heat.


This slightly exotic, main entree is most definitely a guest-worthy dish, but I chose to make it smack dab in the middle of the week when I had some time and a definite need to be creative, in a culinary way.


Shopping List

1 bunch cilantro

1 bunch parsley

5 jalapeños

2 bunches broccolini

1 head of garlic (you’ll need 8 cloves)

salt

pepper 

cumin

olive oil

Bob’s Mill Brand, Gluten-free Polenta

white cheddar cheese

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

4 fresh peaches or apricots

peach preserves

small butternut squash - totally optional ...


Prep Work


First things first, let’s make the Zchug and tuck it in the fridge.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 bunch of cilantro - leaves removed from stem and rinsed.

1 bunch of parsley - leaves removed from stem and rinsed.

3 jalapeños - seeded and coarsely chopped

(if you want to increase the heat, use serrano chilies instead)

8 medium garlic cloves - peeled and coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of cumin

1/4 teaspoon of pepper

4 tablespoons of olive oil

Place all ingredients in a Cuisinart and pulse to create a salsa style consistency.

Taste it.  Does it need a pinch more of cumin?  If so, toss some in.

Once you’re happy with the flavor, place the Zchug in a container and store it in the fridge.


One of the clean snacks that I resort to once or twice during the week, is an Ezekiel brand sprouted mash tortilla with a tablespoon of hummus.  Lately, I’ve been adding a layer of Zchug before throwing on a few slices of cucumber.  Super yum!

Now that the Zchug is in the fridge, let’s make the Polenta

Here’s what you’ll need:

1/2 cup of Bob’s Mill Brand, Gluten-free Polenta

3 cups of water

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

a few grinds of pepper

1/2 cup or more of grated, white cheddar cheese

In a medium sauce pan, bring water, polenta, sea salt and pepper to a boil, whisking regularly.

Once it has come to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low.  Continue to whisk the mixture regularly.  Once it has thickened add the cheese and whisk.  Continue cooking the mixture and whisking it, at regular intervals for 20 - 25 minutes. Taste it and decide if you might want to add more cheese.

Once the polenta is thickened, remove from heat, pour into a container and store in fridge until needed.


At this point in the game plan, I clean the broccolini by removing the small leaves and chopping off the tough ends. Store uncooked broccolini in fridge until you’re ready to cook and plate the meal.


Dinner time:

Cook chicken breasts, broccolini and warm peach jalapeño glaze

Here’s what you’ll need:

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts.

4 apricots or 4 peaches, halved and pitted.

2 bunches of broccolini, with leaves removed and rinsed.

Lightly salt and pepper the chicken.

Heat a grill pan over medium heat until hot.

Spray pan with olive oil, add chicken breasts and lower heat to medium low.

Cook about 5 - 7 minutes per side.  

Add peach or apricot halves to grill pan in the final, few minutes of cooking. 

Cook fruit until tender.  (you can also simply saute the fruit in a separate pan).

While the chicken is cooking, bring a deep saute pan filled halfway with salted water to a boil.

Once the water has come to a boil, add rinsed broccolini and cook for 5 - 7 minutes until tender.

Drain cooked broccolini.

Make peach jalapeño glaze.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 cup of peach preserves

2 jalapeños seeded and coarsely chopped.

I use a ‘Peach Bellini’ jam that can be found at Trader Joe’s.

Mix peach preserves and jalapeños together in a small bowl and cook for 1 minute in microwave. It will have a liquid consistency and this is what you want.


Let’s plate this up!

Warm up the polenta in the microwave and smooth an ample amount on each plate.

Top polenta with a serving of broccolini.

Place a grilled chicken breast over the broccolini and top with peach jalapeño glaze.

Place a grilled peach or apricot half on either side of chicken breast.

Finally, spoon a dollop of Zchug over all.

Enjoy!

(You might notice a bit of roasted butternut squash scattered over the plate) ... I had it and so I made it ... in the morning and warmed it up at dinnertime in the microwave.

Here's the long and the short of it ...  

pre-heat oven to 400.

toss peeled, cubed squash with a good shake or two of cinnamon, a few cranks of sea salt, a slathering of maple syrup and a couple glugs of grapeseed oil.  Toss it all together.  Place squash on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper in a single layer ... roast it for 40 - 45 minutes.  Yum.

Use any leftover butternut squash in your kale salad ... more yum.




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