Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cheatin' Chicken with Mushroom and Robiola Cheese Polenta Pie

We call it cheatin' chicken because all that is required is to eat it! It's a whole chicken that is seasoned and cooked to perfection. I'm partial to the chickens Whole Foods Market sells ... poultry producers must meet very strict program standards for which I advocate. You can pick up a cheatin' chicken near the prepared food section. We discovered a batch comes out in the late afternoon, just in time to get it home and enjoy it warm. Last night we enjoyed our cheatin' chicken with my recipe for Mushroom and Robiola Cheese Polenta Pie (pictured) one of Nick's favorite side dishes. The ingredients, (polenta, mushrooms and creamy robiola) complement the chicken perfectly.

Here's the other thing I love about cheatin' chicken, today I'm going to submerge what's left of it in a pot of boiling water along with a lot of celery, carrots and onion. It will make a delicious stock for the cheatin' chicken and dumpling soup I'm preparing for tonights dinner.

If you're not familiar, robiola (pronounced roh-bee-OL-lah) cheese is a soft, moist and very flavorful brie-like melting cheese that gives this dish its’ decadent flavor and creamy texture. Originating in northern Italy, robiola is starting to rival gorgonzola as that country’s most famous cheese. This pie is extremely versatile; pair it with chicken, fish or beef and serve it at breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. If you happen to have any leftovers, wedges of pie are delicious when topped with a poached egg.

Helpful to know: I highly recommend using Imagine Organic Free Range Chicken Broth for the pie crust. Stand back when adding the cornmeal to the boiling broth as the mixture will splatter. For those of you who don’t know it, you have just made polenta (the combination of a liquid with cornmeal.) Robiola cheese can be found in specialty cheese shops or Whole Foods Market nationwide.


4 cups (1 quart) chicken broth

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup yellow cornmeal

Canola oil for pie plate

Heat chicken broth in a large pot (a deep pot works great) over moderately high heat and bring to a gentle boil. Stir in salt. Reduce heat and slowly add cornmeal, whisking (using the sturdy kind, not the flexible) constantly. Reduce heat to low and cook, whisking occasionally, for 15-20 minutes or until thickened; remove from heat, transfer and evenly spread cornmeal mixture into a lightly oiled pie plate.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Mushroom and Robiola Cheese Topping

2 tablespoons butter

1 pound white mushrooms, chopped

2 tablespoons cooking sherry

½ teaspoon salt

Fresh ground pepper to taste

¼ pound robiola cheese, cubed

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat, add mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are light brown; season with sherry, salt and pepper to taste. Top cornmeal mixture with mushroom mixture and robiola cheese cubes; bake for 45 minutes. Set oven temperature to Broil and lightly brown cheese. Cut into 8 wedges and serve immediately. Yield: 8 servings.