Saturday, January 5, 2013

Polenta Parmesan with Lemon Chicken Scampi

To download a copy of the recipe for Polenta Parmesan with Lemon Chicken Scampi click HERE.

After posts for desserts and side dishes these past few weeks, I thought it was time for a dinner recipe that’s easy, delicious and, as always, made with reduced-fat ingredients. This week’s recipe, Polenta Parmesan with Lemon Chicken Scampi, fits the bill perfectly.

Some Cook’s Notes before we begin.

  • If the word “scampi” makes you think of being in a restaurant and feeling overpowered by the cloud of garlic vapor emanating from a scampi dish on the other side of the room, fear not. In this scampi, the garlic is there but is a lot more subtle. If you want a stronger garlic presence, of course, just increase the amount accordingly. 

  • Many scampi recipes involve frying the chicken. This recipe uses the much lower fat “oven frying” method. As part of this, I’ve used crushed corn flakes in the coating. It’s possible to use bread crumbs, or panko, but I’ve found corn flake crumbs just give the best result when oven frying.

  • There is considerable disagreement in the matter of what liquid should be used to make the polenta. I’m of the school that uses water. Some cooks prefer other liquids, such as chicken broth, but I’ve found they can mask the corn meal’s natural flavor. (If you still prefer the broth, of course, feel free to substitute.)

  • Speaking of polenta, there are numerous ways it can be served. In this recipe, I’ve ladled it onto the plate and put the chicken on top of that. Other ways you can decide to serve it is to pan fry a serving (similar to making a pancake), or making it ahead of time and letting it refrigerate in a baking dish, then slicing and warming a piece for each serving. The right way is whichever one you like best.

  • One more note about polenta: if you’re new to making it and, after reading the recipe below, think that it sounds very much like corn meal grits, you’re right. The main difference between grits, polenta, and a Southern dish call “mush” (pronounced as in “mushroom,” not as would rhyme with push) is the coarseness, or lack thereof, of the corn meal used. Grits uses the coarsest corn meal, mush the finest, and polenta somewhere in between.


This recipe makes 4 servings.

First, prepare the breading station as follows:

Combine ½ cup AP flour; 1 tsp salt; 1 tsp dried sage; ½ tsp paprika; and ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper in a bowl and mix till combined.

Put 2 egg substitute eggs in another bowl. In a large food storage bag, crush about 5 cups of corn flakes to make about 2 cups of corn flake crumbs.

Next, bread the chicken:

Rinse 1 to 1-1/4 pounds of chicken tenders and pat dry with paper towels. Dredge each tender in the flour mixture.

Dip each tender in the egg substitute, letting the excess drip off.

Toss the tender in the corn flake crumbs to coat.

After all of the tenders are coated, place in the refrigerator and let rest for about 30 minutes.

To prepare for baking:

A few minutes before taking the breaded chicken out of the refrigerator, begin preheating the oven to 350. Place a baking dish with 6 Tbsp of butter substitute in the preheating oven to melt. After the butter has melted, remove the baking dish from the oven. Add 2 tsp dried parsley; 1 Tbsp chopped garlic; the juice of 1 lemon; and fresh ground black pepper, and stir to combine.

Place the breaded chicken tenders in the baking dish, rolling each as you put it in to let the breading absorb some of the butter mixture on both sides.

Top with 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms.

Bake for 30 minutes, turning the chicken tenders over half way through.

While the chicken is baking, make the polenta as follows:

Put 4 cups of water and ½ Tbsp salt into a medium saucepan and heat until boiling just begins.

Decrease the heat to very low. Add 1-3/4 cups of fine cornmeal slowly, stirring as you add it to keep lumps from forming. Cover the saucepan, but stir the polenta often. After the polenta has been cooking for about 10 minutes, stir in 2 tsp sugar, two or three dashes of hot sauce, and 2 Tbsp of butter substitute.

Stir in a cup of grated parmesan. Keeping the saucepan covered except to stir, continue cooking the polenta until smooth, about another 2-5 minutes.

To serve:

Ladle about a cup of polenta on to the plate. Add whatever vegetable you’re serving. (In the photo, I used sliced zucchini.)

Place two of the chicken tenders on the polenta. Garnish with parsley, and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

To download a copy of the recipe for Polenta Parmesan with Lemon Chicken Scampi click HERE. 

Buon appetito!

Please visit again next week for another great tasting recipe you won’t believe is reduced fat – but it is! Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)

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