January 22nd 2014
Do you have those days where you fully intend on making a full meal for the family, but then once dinnertime hits you find that your plan was never put into action? Between school, soccer, and basic “Mom” functions in general I have really been trying to stretch my pantry staples into hearty, fresh, meals that can be cooked in less than 30 minutes (Oh geez, that was a corny line circa 1956, I need to read “The Feminine Mystique” apparently). I have a two and a half year old, and if you or someone you know has one you could understand why even trying to shop at the grocery store is totally impossible on most days. I think that there are a few pre-made items that are totally acceptable to use and actually make delicious homemade meals quick and easy. One of my “go-to” items is rotisserie chicken, depending on where you shop, some are better than others, but most times they are good, as is or as I like to do, removed from bones, skin removed, shredded and used as the protein in your dish. Another thing to have on hand that is a never a bad idea, is a good, high quality, no sugar added, jarred marinara. I’m kinda picky with what I will use, but there are some really good ones, buy your favorite. I also like to have dried mushrooms in my pantry and grains of all sorts. Right now I love polenta, its rich, filling, easy, and just happens to be gluten-free for those of you who try to avoid gluten. So here is a quick weeknight meal that your family will love, easy to be vegan as well, skip the animal products all together and it is still yum.
You will need:
1 rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed, meat shredded
1 big jar of your favorite marinara, or use 4 cups of homemade
½ green bell pepper diced small
1 palmful dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted in ½ cup hot water, I love these because they add instant flavor and can are cabinet safe, if you prefer you can use 1 cup diced mushrooms of choice.
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup polenta or yellow cornmeal
1-3 tablespoons butter (optional)
Bring stock to a boil, add salt, reduce heat to medium-high, add polenta, whisk vigorously and often for about 12 minutes, turn down to medium and whisk every few minutes while you make your sauce.
Place sauce ingredients in a saucepan, heat over medium until simmering, cook 15 minutes or so until green peppers are tender.
Add butter to polenta if you are using it, stir until melted. Top a scoop of creamy polenta with Cacciatore sauce and top with parmesan and fresh parsley.