Wednesday, April 11, 2012

MY unltimate comfort food

We all have some kind of comfort food and for everyone it differs because of how it tastes, how it makes us feel or more importantly I think in comfort food.......the memories it evokes.

My ultimate comfort food is chicken and polenta.

This meal evokes wonderful memories of growing up for me.

You see, both my Grandfather's passed away before I was born and by the time I was old enough to start remembering, one of my Grandmother's had a special friend.

His name was Fiorenzo and he was originally from a small town in the northern mountains of Italy called Sondrio.

When we used to visit them occasionally on a weekend, I always remember this dish.  We probably didn't have it as often as I think we did but it made such an impression on me that I can't think of anything else that we may have eaten.

My version is probably much easier than Grandmas and Fiorenzo's ever was as I always seem to cook my chicken in the slow cooker.  Most of the time I use my own tried and true tomato based sauce recipe which I use when I cook pasta or nearly anything needing a tomato based sauce. 

When I'm pushed for time or having a meltdown moment, then I just pour in a jar of bought pasta sauce. (These or indeed any other kind of simmer sauces go so well in a slow cooker).

As for the polenta, I cheat cooking it these days too so I make it in the microwave and not on the stove top.  It's soooooo much easier and much less messy and I refuse to cook polenta any other way.....even if that means I offend my brother because I didn't cook it in a BLACK pot. (Fiorenzo ALWAYS used to tell us that you could only cook polenta in a black pot....I'm sure he chuckled many times when he said this.)

To feed our family of four, I put one cup of polenta, two teaspoons of chicken stock and a good pinch of mixed herbs in the bottom portion of my Tupperware stack cooker.   Any good size microwave safe container or bowl is perfect though, especially anything designed to cook rice.

I then pour in 1 litre (4 cups) of boiling water, give it a stir and cook in the microwave for 16 minutes on HIGH (1000w), stirring at least once.  (I cook for 8 minutes, stir then cook for anther 8 minutes).

Then comes the HIGH in fat portion of the polenta to make a nice, creamy polenta dish.  I usually grate plenty of cheese (a minimum of 1 cup) and chop up a about 60grams of real butter to mix through the cooked polenta and let it all melt through.

Mozzarella is the traditional cheese for this dish but I often mix my cheeses up.  As I've always got some kind of cheddar or tasty cheese then this usually forms the bulk of the grated cheese mix but as I usually have parmesan in the fridge then I'll always add this in as well.

This time I also had a Trilby trio of cheeses in the fridge which included roasted olive, vintage and smoked so I grated some of that too.

Once the polenta is cooked, I let it stand in the microwave for a few minutes then stir the cheeses and butter through until it's all melted and looking like a big, yellow creamy mush.

I usually get two forks and rip apart the chicken in the slow cooker before taking the bones out.  It's so much easier when dishing it out and I don't have the kids trying to eat the hot chicken bones with their dinner.

...and the result once my family has finished dinner.  NO more polenta.  The kidlettes and Daddy all had seconds and were looking for more so I'm glad I only made one lot of polenta.  There's always still plenty of chicken leftover so it's usually polenta again for the next night's dinner (which is why I don't cook it very often as we truly would all be the size of houses) or sometimes I'll cook up pasta to have with it.

I'm never as popular around the house when I don't cook up a second lot of polenta though.

So there is my ULTIMATE comfort food and one I indulge in only occasionally as it makes my family appreciate it all the more too.

Hubby had never had it before we got married either and he was an instant convert the first time I ever made it.

I'd love to hear what your comfort foods are too.

xx Susan

This post is in memory of my Grandmother Joyce who passed away when I was 5 months pregnant with Little Miss R...

.....and Fiorenzo who is no longer with us either.

You are both thought of often and I miss you.

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