Polenta Chicken with White Wine, Rosemary and Black Olives

There’s nothing like a splash of white wine, squeeze of lemon and fresh herbs to cheer up a chicken fricassee. This one gets rosemary and black olives to give it a South of France flavour but served over sloppy polenta laden with Parmesan and butter. The result is rich and luscious and very, very moreish. I served it with quickly boiled green beans and courgette from the ever productive and ever amazing front yard patch. Half the polenta, incidentally, will be poured into a dish and left to cool and set; that is for a second recipe – Beef Ragu with Crusty Polenta.

Serves 2

Prep: 20 min

Cook: 30 min

1 onion

10g butter

1 tbsp olive oil

½ tsp rosemary spikes

6 chicken thigh fillets

flour for dusting

150ml white wine

200ml chicken stock

10 pitted black olives

squeeze lemon

for the polenta:

800ml boiling water

½ tsp salt

200g instant polenta

50g butter

50g finely grated Parmesan

Halve, peel and finely chop the onion. Melt the butter in the olive oil in a spacious, lidded sauté/frying pan and stir in the onion. Finely chop the rosemary to dust and stir it with a generous pinch salt into the onion. Adjust the heat so it cooks steadily but without browning. Stir occasionally; you want it sloppy before the chicken is added. Prepare the chicken by slicing into bite-size strips. Pat dry with kitchen paper then dust with flour, shaking off excess. When the onion is ready, push it to the side of the pan, tilting so the fat runs back. Now add the chicken, spreading it out. Leave to firm and form a crust – a white rim round the edge of the pieces – before attempting to turn. Repeat until seared all over, adding a splash extra of olive oil if necessary. Stir the onion back over and into the chicken, add the wine and let it bubble up while stirring to make a thick gravy. Add the stock, stirring so the juices are smooth. Reduce the heat, cover and leave to simmer for about 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Stir occasionally to avoid sticking. Halve the olives through their middles and add to the pan. Season to taste, adding salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Cook the polenta just before you are ready to serve; it is quick, hands on and half the quantities given are for a second dish. Bring a spacious pan of 800ml boiling water to a steady boil, have ready a long handled wooden spoon and add ½ tsp salt and the polenta in a steady stream, stirring constantly. Adjust the heat so the Versuvial polenta simmers gently, with you stirring constantly until thick and smooth, adding more water if very, very thick. Remove the pan from the heat and pour half into a tin or shallow dish, approx 20x10cm, any shape and leave to set. Stir 50g butter and 50g Parmesan into the polenta in the pan and stir as it melts into the polenta, the pan now back over the heat. Add more of either as you see fit. Serve the chicken over the polenta.