Monday, July 12, 2010

Chicken Salad on Grilled Polenta Rounds

 Poolside at Prairie Wood

A beautiful summer day is reason enough for a late afternoon drink or two by the pool, don't you think? And a drink always goes better with a little something to eat.

Back in March, while visiting our friends, Mike and Libba in Ripley, TN, we enjoyed some delicious hors d'oeuvres, and I was just itching to try my hand at recreating them -- so a tiny poolside party was born.

Mike and Libba served us these very simple, but elegant, grilled polenta rounds topped with chicken salad on the evening we arrived.  We watched as Mike grilled the polenta, sliced from a ready-made and packaged tube.
Mike's version

Since his chicken salad was made ahead of time, I asked how to make it as he plopped it by spoonfuls onto the grilled polenta. Mike is an accomplished man about the kitchen, so he gave me one of those "some of this and some of that" recipes, which rarely comes out the same at home.

The presentation was beautiful and the taste was delightfully light, so I figured if I took a picture, at least I could mimic the appearance, if not the flavors. Besides, I just love taking food pictures!

 Cora's version!

I was optimistic when I set out to make my own, and in this case, I actually was able to capture Mike's delicate chicken salad almost perfectly!

Grilling the polenta was a little more challenging though. Turns out I don't have Mike's patience while waiting for those lovely blackened grill marks to appear. Mine could have been grill-ier, but worked quite nicely, all the same.

Please don't think less of me for the fake potted sunflowers on my table -- it was too early in the season for the real sunflowers and I did mention this was an impromptu gathering, didn't I? Even a quick trip to the grocery for some fresh flowers required more time than I was willing to wait to see if my chicken salad on polenta rounds would turn out well.

Doesn't that cute little plate stand with summery pastel plates more than make up for fake flowers. That, and those itty bitty canning jars with the mini celery strips for the Buffalo Hot Wing Dip! C'mon -- it's as close to a Martha Stewart moment as I'm likely to come on short notice.

boneless chicken breasts
Lawry's seasoned salt
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence
salt and pepper to taste
1 tube refrigerated polenta
olive oil
sriracha hot chile sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sprinkle boneless chicken breasts on both sides with Lawry's Seasoned Salt and lay on a baking sheet. Place baking sheet with chicken breasts into oven and bake until just cooked all the way through - internal thermometer should read 165 degrees. Remove from oven and cool. Finely chop chicken breasts or chop on pulse in food processor.

In a small bowl, combine chopped chicken breasts, Herbes de Provence, mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste. Add enough mayonnaise to moisten mixture well, but do not use too much, or it will be runny. Taste for seasoning and add salt, pepper and more Herbes de Provence, if desired.

Slice polenta into 1/4" rounds. Grill for about 8 - 10 minutes, or until black grill marks begin to show on each side and rounds are slightly crispy. Polenta rounds can also be broiled in oven, until lightly browned and slightly crispy. Remove from grill or oven and cool for a few minutes.

Top each polenta round with a spoonful of chicken salad and garnish with a drop of chile sauce and serve.


Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I've never used the store-bought polenta tubes. Nice to know they work well on the grill.

Cora said...

Lydia, I'd never used the tubes either, but they did a fine job. Saves all the time of preparing, chilling and cutting circles out with a biscuit cutter.