The name doesn’t quite give it away but this meal is White Rock Pinot Gris (white wine) poached free-range chicken with chilli polenta and garlic and thyme mushrooms – a bit long for the heading!
This mouthwatering meal sounds involved and a little daunting, but in fact, it is one of my easiest dinners and will always impress! The only thing is, you need to prepare your polenta with enough time to refrigerate it for an hour.
You can use any kind of mushrooms that you like – whatever you can get at your local market, or whatever is on sale at the grocery store. It’s actually nice to use a variety of mushrooms such as button, shiitake and Portobello to add a few different flavours in each mouthful.
If you haven’t poached chicken before, don’t be afraid – it’s not as difficult as poaching an egg; in fact, it’s very easy. So let’s get started!
Certified free-range chicken breasts
White Rock Pinot Gris
3 cups of vegetable stock
1 ¼ cups of polenta (cornmeal)
1 small chilli, deseeded and finely chopped, (or 1 tsp of crushed chilli)
Small handful of grated cheddar cheese
Garlic and Thyme Mushrooms
1 to 2 TBS olive oil
500 grams of sliced mushrooms
3 cloves of crushed garlic
1 TBS of dried thyme
Salt and pepper
We need to begin with our polenta so that it can go into the refrigerator for at least one hour before baking. If you are pushed for time, you can prepare it the night before and refrigerate it for 24 hours. Bring the vegetable stock to the boil in a medium-sized pot, then reduce the heat and pour the polenta in, making sure you stir the whole time. Continue stirring on low until the mixture thickens (which should only take a couple of minutes). Take off the heat and mix in the chilli and grated cheese.
Pour the thick substance into a shallow tin lined with baking paper and refrigerate for at least one hour.
When the polenta only needs another 5 or 10 minutes in the fridge, you can pre-heat your oven to 180° C and then start preparing your free-range chicken. Place the breasts in a pot that will fit them in one layer – it doesn’tmatter if they’re a bit squished together – and add your White Rock Pinot Gris so that the chicken is covered by about an inch. Bring the liquid to the boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer so that there is only an occasional bubble breaking the surface. Partly cover the pot and cook for 10 minutes before turning off the heat.
While you’re waiting, take the polenta out of the fridge and remove from the tin. Cut it into strips, similar to chunky chips, and line them on a large baking tray that is sprayed with cooking oil. Lightly spray the top of the polenta chips and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, flipping once.
When the chicken has been simmering for 10 minutes, remove the pot from the heat and cover it completely, allowing the chicken to finish cooking in the hot water for about 15 minutes.
Heat your olive oil in a pan or wok and add the mushrooms, garlic and thyme. Stir fry until the mushrooms are soft and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Everything should be done now so you just need to put it all together! I like to stack the polenta chips on a plate (see photo) and then slice the chicken breast in half and place on top of the chips. Then top with mushrooms and their juices and enjoy! As always, serve with a generous glass or two of Pinot Gris!