Chicken Thigh Ragu over Cheesy Polenta

Easy, incredibly flavorful and elegant enough to serve to guests! And if that wasn’t enticement enough, it’s a one pot wonder! Yep, this riff on braised short ribs is made in the crock pot! My girlfriend Carolyn doesn’t eat beef so I created a chicken thigh ragu just for her! She was kind enough to share it with the rest of us!

We were getting ready to hit the road for 3 months and needed something easy to make. I knew I wanted to have our friends Steve and Carolyn over for dinner before we left. A progressive dinner sounded like great fun! When you are sorting through all of your precious belongings, looking for all the essential must haves that could possibly fit into your RV, there’s not a lot of time for fancy cookery. A lovely dinner and dessert, oh yes you gotta have dessert, turned into a relaxing and tasty evening with great friends! ~ check out the Gingerbread Trifle with Spicy Pecans to see how we topped off our progressive dinner!

I know you aren’t supposed to make a recipe for the 1st time and serve it to guests. I took the chance, hoping my vision would come together, and tossed it all in the crock pot! It sure smelled terrific while it was cooking which is generally a good sign. If not, Plan B was to order Pizza, which is a favorite of Carolyn’s, so I figured I couldn’t go too wrong. Really good friends will always give you a lot of latitude because they come to see you and food is the bonus!

Oh happy day! It was as good in the pot as it was on the plate! The chicken thighs fell apart and shredded into strings of tender goodness. The sauce had a great depth of flavor and the chunks of vegetables were little surprise packages of sweetness. All of this draped over the smoothest cheesy polenta ever and we were all in heaven!

One of the great things about a crock pot meal is that you will usually have leftovers! I love leftovers! This yummy chicken ragu froze beautifully and now it will be dinner again tonight. A gift that keeps giving! What a treat to pair this with a Tobin James Sangiovese or better yet their James Gang Reserve Primitivo! Think I’ll walk across the road and pick one up!

Camping across from Tobin James

Life doesn’t get much better than parking your RV near the vines, across the road from the tasting room at Tobin James Cellars! We are members of Harvest Hosts which provides unique overnight stops at wineries and farms across the United States and Canada. Tobin James happened to be our first Harvest Host location and we were greeted with open arms and made to feel very welcome the minute we arrived.

Ben, the manager, was openly happy to see us and have us stay on the property. He explained how much everyone at Tobin James Cellars enjoys having the members of Harvest Hosts stay with them and what great people the founders Don and Kim Greene are!  Jill helps wth selecting and pours

We have always enjoyed the wines from Tobin James. But when we bellied up to the 1860’s cowboy bar and interacted with the gang pouring wine it added a playful magic to the whole tasting experience! Call us lucky, for we got to enjoy pours from so many of the gang at Tobin James that we began to feel like family! Gaetano warmly greeted us with his charming Italian accent, Chris regaled us in tales about the history of Tobin James (and it’s a great story!) and then there was Jill! She has a bubbly personality and was genuinely interested in us and in creating a great experience for us! Jill is just plain fun!

Howdy Partner

Howdy Pardner! The “Rule” at Tobin James Cellars is : “The only rule in our tasting room is….Have Fun!” No one has a problem following that rule! Fun is had by all, including those who work there! If you find yourself anywhere near Paso Robles, saddle up your horse and ride on into Tobin James and become one of the James Gang! Tasting Tobin James style will thrill all your senses!

Chicken Thigh Ragu over Cheesy Polenta

Salt and pepper thighs

Trim the chicken thighs of any excess fat. Season with salt and pepper.

Brown the thighs

Place the olive oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once hot, place the thighs in the pan and sear until browned on both sides but not cooked through.

Browned thighs in crock pot

Transfer the browned thighs to the slow cooker.

Powerhouse of flavor

Time to mise en place the powerhouse of flavor! San Marzano tomatoes are from Italy and have a sweeter flavor and lower acidity. If you can find them, great! If not, substitute any whole canned tomatoes. Bogel is truly my Essential Red! How’s the quote go? “I like to cook with wine! Sometimes I even put it in the food!”

Saute mushrooms onion and garlic

In the same pan, saute the mushrooms and onions until lightly caramelized. Add the garlic and saute 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper while cooking. Add to the slow cooker. 

Squish the tomatoes

Squishing the tomatoes with your hands gets the perfect texture and separation. And it’s fun to play with your food! 🙂

Carrots and celery to pot
Add the carrots, celery and remaining ingredients, except for the cilantro or parsley, to the slow cooker. Combine corn starch and chicken broth and mix until diluted and add to crock pot. Cook on low for 6-7 hours.

Shred the chicken thigh meat and return to the slow cooker. Continue cooking another 20-30 minutes.

Serve over cheesy polenta and sprinkle with chopped cilantro or parsley.

Cheesy Polenta

Simple Ingredients

Simple ingredients that transform into the most wonderful side dish in a snap!

Sprinke cornmeal

In a large sauce pan, heat 4 cups of water to boiling. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal so that lumps don’t form.

Whisk cornmeal

Reduce the heat to medium while continuing to whisk and cook the cornmeal for 4-5 minutes until it is tender and creamy. Be careful because the hot cornmeal will bubble up and can pop out of the pot. Reduce the heat if this happens.

Butter and seasonings

Add the No Salt Seasoning and butter and stir to combine.

Add cheese

Add the cheese and stir to combine.

Creamy ribbons

The polenta should fall into creamy ribbons. Taste for salt and pepper adjustments.

Cheesy Polenta

Chicken Thigh Ragu over Cheesy Polenta
Serves 8
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Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
6 hr
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
6 hr
748 calories
27 g
421 g
30 g
79 g
8 g
755 g
414 g
18 g
0 g
19 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
755g
Servings
8
Amount Per Serving
Calories 748
Calories from Fat 269
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 30g
46%
Saturated Fat 8g
38%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 6g
Monounsaturated Fat 13g
Cholesterol 421mg
140%
Sodium 414mg
17%
Total Carbohydrates 27g
9%
Dietary Fiber 4g
16%
Sugars 18g
Protein 79g
Vitamin A
128%
Vitamin C
38%
Calcium
9%
Iron
29%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 5-6 pounds of chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
  2. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 1 pound cremini mushrooms, rough chopped
  4. 1 medium yellow onion, large dice
  5. 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  6. 4 organic carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 rounds
  7. 3 stalks of celery including the leaves, large dice
  8. 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  9. 8 oz tomato sauce
  10. 1 - 28 ounce can whole San Marzano plum tomatoes, including juice
  11. 2 cups red wine
  12. 1 cup chicken broth
  13. 1 tablespoon corn starch
  14. 1 teaspoon thyme
  15. 6 sprigs of fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped for garnish
  16. salt & pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Trim the chicken thighs of any excess fat. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Place the olive oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once hot, place the thighs in the pan and sear until browned on both sides but not cooked through.
  3. Transfer the browned thighs to the slow cooker.
  4. In the same pan, saute the mushrooms and onions until lightly caramelized. Add the garlic and saute 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper while cooking. Add to the slow cooker.
  5. Add the carrots, celery and remaining ingredients, except for the cilantro or parsley, to the slow cooker. Combine corn starch and chicken broth and mix until diluted and add to crock pot. Cook on low for 6-7 hours.
  6. Shred the chicken thigh meat and return to the slow cooker. Continue cooking another 20-30 minutes.
  7. Serve over cheesy polenta and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
beta
calories
748
fat
30g
protein
79g
carbs
27g
more
Life of the Party Always! http://lifeofthepartyalways.com/
Cheesy Polenta
Serves 6
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
1 min
Cook Time
10 min
Prep Time
1 min
Cook Time
10 min
176 calories
22 g
18 g
6 g
7 g
4 g
203 g
498 g
1 g
0 g
2 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
203g
Servings
6
Amount Per Serving
Calories 176
Calories from Fat 57
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 6g
10%
Saturated Fat 4g
18%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 18mg
6%
Sodium 498mg
21%
Total Carbohydrates 22g
7%
Dietary Fiber 1g
4%
Sugars 1g
Protein 7g
Vitamin A
4%
Vitamin C
1%
Calcium
11%
Iron
5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  2. 4 cups chicken broth or water or 1/2 and 1/2 of each
  3. 1/2 teaspoon No Salt Seasoning (like Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute or Mrs Dash)
  4. 1 tablespoon butter
  5. 3/4 – 1 cup shredded Mexican style cheese
  6. Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large sauce pan, heat 4 cups of water to boiling. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal so that lumps don’t form.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium while continuing to whisk and cook the cornmeal for 6-8 minutes until it is tender and creamy. Be careful because the hot cornmeal will bubble up and can pop out of the pot. Reduce the heat if this happens.
  3. Add the No Salt Seasoning and butter and stir to combine.
  4. Add the cheese and stir to combine. Taste for salt and pepper adjustments.
beta
calories
176
fat
6g
protein
7g
carbs
22g
more
Life of the Party Always! http://lifeofthepartyalways.com/

 

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