Friday, June 3, 2011

Grilled Chicken & Polenta with Nectarine-Blackberry Salsa

"Grilled," in my case, means grilled in a grill pan on my stove, but if you're the outdoor-grilling kind, this would be equally tasty cooked al fresco.

I got this recipe from, and except for cutting the whole thing in half, I really didn't change it. I just added a little green onion and upped the fruit ratio from two nectarines for four servings to two for two, and added about 6 or 8 raspberries, since they are one of my all-time favorite foods, and also a berry, so why not. I don't know what "coarsely chopped" means when it comes to berries, so I just sliced them in half vertically, and that worked out just dandy.
I found the instructions from the original recipe to be written in kind of a confusing way, so here's my redo:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 nectarines, halved and pitted
1/2 tube of plain prepared polenta
1/3 pint of blackberries, and a palm-full of raspberries
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. lime juice
about 1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 green onion, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
Hot sauce, to taste (I used 1/2 tsp Sriracha)
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

1. Combine 1 tablespoon olive oil, cumin, and a bit of salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the mixture on polenta, and both sides of the chicken. Then cut the polenta into discs, about 1/2 inch thick, and rub a little olive oil on the cut side of the nectarines.
2. Place the chicken, polenta slices and nectarines on the grill, or in your grill pan. [If you are using a real-life grill, you should oil the grill rack before doing this.] Grill the polenta until hot and slightly charred, 3-4 minutes, then transfer it to a plate and tent it with tin foil to keep polenta warm. Grill the nectarines, turning occasionally, until tender, 6-8 minutes total. Grill the chicken until cooked and no longer pink inside, 6-8 minutes per side. Transfer chicken and nectarines to a cutting board. Coarsely chop the nectarines. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes, then slice.
3. While the chicken rests, combine the lime juice, hot sauce, and a bit of salt in a large or medium bowl. Then add the chopped nectarines, blackberries, cilantro, and green onion. Gently combine.
4. Serve chicken and polenta on a platter with salsa over the top, or individually.

I have to be honest about a couple of things. For one, my nectarines were tiny jerks. They were definitely ripe. They were slightly soft to the squeeze, fragrant, colorful... ripe. But when it came to giving up those pits, they were totally unwilling. So I ended up quartering my nectarines, in favor of mushing them into a pulp trying to remove the pits. I can't imagine that this made much of a difference to the dish, but still. Full disclosure. Also, because I know my taste, I used more cilantro - maybe 1 3/4 tbs instead of 1. I served this dish with just a little bit of green salad, but with all the fruit, you almost don't really need it.
This fruit salsa was super, super delicious. The combination of sweet and just the tiniest bit spicy is a fantastic combination. I would make this again with a variety of other main dishes. Also, grilling nectarines is a brilliant idea! (It wasn't my idea, so I can say that). Sometime soon I will serve warm grilled nectarines with whipped cream. And someday I will try the salsa sans the Sriracha and onion over waffles for a weekend breakfast. (Wow, that's a really exciting idea...)

I know that a grill pan isn't the same as the real deal, but if you don't have access to a grill, you should really consider getting one of these pans. You can get those satisfying grill marks, create crispy skin on your chicken and blacken veggie kabobs with the best of them. For this dish, the pan made a huge difference. Happy grilling!

Quote of the Day: Grilling is like sunbathing. Everyone knows it is bad for you but no one ever stops doing it. ~ Laurie Colwin, 'Home Cooking' (1988)

No comments:

Post a Comment