The Creative Cooking Group came up with an amazing theme this month. Color, but only one color. I thought for weeks about the color yellow.
At first I was thrilled with this concept, thinking that it gave us lots of freedom. Then I hit blog block.
The block was broken and I was inspired when I ate dinner at Margot Cafe last Saturday night. I did something I never ever do in restaurants. I ordered chicken because the server recommended it. It was one of the best chicken dishes of my life and I’m no stranger to great chicken, because roasted chicken is one of my own signature dishes. The chicken was pan roasted with a green tomato agridolce sauce and served over polenta. We had five different entrees at the table and still this was my favorite, and I knew this was the dish I would make for this challenge, changing out the green tomatoes for golden grape tomatoes and make my color for the challenge, GOLD instead of yellow.
Agridolce, Chicken, Polenta
What’s Tomato Agridolce you ask? I didn’t know myself, but I should have. It’s a sweet and sour sauce from Sicily, my grandfather’s birthplace, and a place I’ve visited. It brings a wake up or fermented perk to a dish, especially a meaty fish or chicken. The Sicilians often made it with swordfish or tuna.
Agridolce can be prepared by a method that takes up to 45 minutes using white wine, vinegar and sugar or made quickly using onion, butter, vinegar and sugar. I tried it both ways, and the quick way without the wine was preferred, although I enjoyed both versions.
This dish can be made in under an hour, and it’s marvelous. It’s heart warming. It’s surprising. The chicken was so tender, yet so golden brown. I cut up a whole chicken which was dry brined, brought it to near room temperature and then put it on the grill at the highest heat possible (800 degrees). After a few minutes, I brought the heat down to about 600 degrees.
The polenta was creamy and served to offset the pungent tang of the golden tomato agridolce. The polenta is a wonderful backdrop for the tang of the agridolce. I didn’t add any cheese into the polenta, keeping it simple so that it soaked up the flavor of the sweet and sour sauce. This was a new dish for me, and underscores the reason I dine out so frequently.
I have a Question for YOU about Dining Out: I find that most of my foodie blogger friends don’t dine out very frequently. How about you? How often do you eat out in restaurants? Nice restaurants that cost about $80-$100 per couple? Do restaurants inspire to cook at home and try new things?
- I whole chicken cut up into 4 parts, breasts with wings, thighs with legs (or pre cut chicken parts of your choice)
- sea salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ onion or 2 shallots, diced
- 8 ounces golden grape tomatoes, cut into quarters
- ⅔ cup champagne vinegar (can use red wine or balsamic)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 cups dry polenta made according to instructions. Can use instant or regular.
- 4 tablespoons butter
- Salt chicken parts, wrap in plastic for two days in refrigerator. As a short cut, you can salt when you are taking it to room temperature.
- Bring to room temperature, leaving out for an hour to two hours.
- Light grill to highest heat. Spray grill with cooking spray.
- Put chicken on grill skin side down for 10 minutes. Turn grill down to medium high (about 500-600 degrees). Turn chicken at about 20 minutes or when it's golden brown. Cook another 15-20 minutes or until done.
- In the meantime, make polenta and agridolce.
- Make polenta according to instructions. Add in two tablespoons butter to polenta if that is not part of the instructions to make it creamy.
- Heat olive oil in pan. Add onion and cook until softened and golden. Add tomatoes and cook for a few minutes. Add in sugar and vinegar and reduce down about 10 -15 minutes. During last few minutes add in 2 tablespoons of butter.
- Assemble dish, with first polenta, chicken. Pour sauce over chicken. Serve immediately.