Braised Chicken and Fennel with Creamy Polenta

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Braised Chicken and Fennel with Creamy Polenta

Creamy polenta makes a great base for almost any braised dish, as it soaks up the flavorful liquid and provides the same rib-sticking satisfaction you get from wheat-based starches such as pasta or bread. And though you might think of polenta as something that takes lots of time and stirring to prepare, this quick version takes just 10 minutes in the microwave and only needs to be stirred once. Start the polenta while the chicken is braising in the broth. It will be ready by the time the chicken finishes cooking.


Braised Chicken and Fennel with Creamy Polenta


2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 Tbs. olive oil

1 1/2 oz. (45 g) pancetta, chopped

1 tsp. fennel seeds

1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped

1 fennel bulb, trimmed, quartered and cored and then sliced, fronds reserved and minced

2 bay leaves

1 Tbs. tomato paste

1/2 (4 fl. oz./125 ml) cup dry white wine

1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) gluten-free chicken broth


For the polenta:

1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz./80 g) gluten-free medium-grind cornmeal

1 Tbs. olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 to 4 Tbs. grated Parmesan or pecorino romano cheese


Using poultry shears, cut the chicken breasts in half crosswise. Pat dry and sprinkle on both sides with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the chicken and sear, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.


Pour off the fat from the pan and return the pan to medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and fennel seeds and sauté 30 for seconds. Add the onion, sliced fennel bulb and bay leaves. Sauté until the vegetables begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the wine and bring to a boil, stirring up the browned bits.


Return the chicken to the pan with any juices accumulated on the plate. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, turning after 6 minutes, 12 to 15 minutes total, depending on the size of the chicken pieces. Taste and adjust the seasoning.


While the chicken is braising, make the polenta. In a microwave-safe bowl, mix 2 cup (16 fl. oz./500 ml) water, the cornmeal, olive oil, 1/2 tsp. salt and a generous amount of pepper. Place in the microwave and cook at the high setting for 5 minutes. Stir thoroughly, then return to the microwave and cook at the high setting for 5 more minutes. Stir well. Stir in the cheese and 1 Tbs. of the minced fennel fronds. Taste and season with salt and pepper.


Divide the polenta between 2 warmed plates. Top with the chicken and sauce. Sprinkle with some of the remaining minced fennel fronds and serve immediately. Serves 2.


What We're Reading: Weeknight Gluten Free



Find more quick, gluten-free dinner recipes in
our book Weeknight Gluten Free, by Kristine Kidd.

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