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Polenta Hunter’s Style

  • Category: Main Dish, Poultry, Side Dish
  • Submitted By:
  • Town/State: Sonora, CA
  • Serves: 5 – 6
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Cooking time: 1 hour

Once a dish of humble country peasants and farmers of Italy, polenta has found its way from this humble origin to being used in some of the trendiest of menus featuring California cuisine. My personal memories of this dish go back to my childhood and my Great Aunt, who between her, my Grandmother, and Great Grandmother, always seemed to have something cooking on the stove be it cornbread, a pot of beans, or, occasionally if they could get fresh rabbit or stewing hen, a large casserole of polenta. This dish was the very definition of comfort food to me, a perfectly seasoned red sauce, heavy with garlic and garden fresh herbs, with cubes of cooked polenta and tender stewed meat covered in the slight sharpness of Parmesan cheese. While rabbit isn’t the easiest to obtain meat anymore (and I absolutely recommend trying this recipe with rabbit if you can get it), this dish can still be made with chicken and have the same absolutely delicious results.

Amount Measure Ingredients
1 1/2 cups polenta (I use Golden Pheasant brand)
6 cups water
2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 lbs chicken breast cooked and shredded or cubed (or 2 lbs rabbit meat)
3 cups 4 cheese flavor pasta sauce (approximately 1 28 oz can)
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp dried basil
2 cups mozzarella, shredded

To prepare:

Bring water to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Add in the salt and then slowly stir in the polenta. Return to a boil then reduce heat to medium low and cook uncovered 10-15 minutes stirring very frequently. Next, stir in the butter, parmesan cheese, and black pepper. Pour into a buttered 9×13″ baking dish approximately 1″ deep and set aside to chill 30 minutes until well set and firm. Cut the polenta into 1″ cubes and pour into a deep casserole dish. Fold in the shredded or cubed chicken or rabbit and the pasta sauce, garlic, and basil, gently mixing so as not to break up the polenta cubes too much. Cover with the shredded mozzarella cheese and liberal sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Place in a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbling and cheese is slightly browned. Serve immediately with garlic bread or a Caesar salad and a perhaps a bold red table wine such as Bordeaux or Cabernet Sauvignon.