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Polenta e Tocio alla Maria

Serves: 10

Polenta and Tocio was something we had at Zia Alma’s house and was always special when she and Zio made it. For the Euro’s tradition is the kids come work from here and we watch the game together. Of course good Italian food must be consumed. So for the Italy vs. Spain semi-final game I decided to honor Zia and make Polenta and Tocio (Chicken Stew) but my style as I didn’t ever get the recipe from her.

Polenta is one of the earliest and simplest foods known as cucina povera (poor food). This is a staple for Northern Italians and has been transformed in North America as a specialty side dish. Today I made a soft parmesan polenta that I placed in an ovenproof pan, broiled it so it was golden then topped with mozzarella until crisp. Absolutely delicious with the chicken stew I made.

Ingredients for Chicken Stew

3 tbsp olive oil

10 skinless chicken thighs

3 skinless chicken breast sliced in half

Lawry’s garlic salt to taste

2 cups largely diced onions

2 cups largely diced celery

2 cups largely diced carrots

2 cups white wine

3 dried bay leaves

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 bottle passata tomato sauce

4 tbsp tomato paste

Ingredients for Polenta

12 cups water

3 tsp salt

4 cups Italissima instant polenta

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese


  1. In a large wok style pan heat oil and add enough chicken to fill the bottom

  2. Season chicken with Lawry's on both side. If you don't have Lawry's season with salt and pepper

  3. Cook chicken on both sides until browned, about 8 minutes each side. Do this until all the chicken is browned and set aside on a plate

  4. Add vegetables to the pan and fry on high heat until they are getting brown bits on them

  5. Pour the chicken and the juices in the plate into the pan and stir well

  6. Pour wine and stir well

  7. Add bay leaves, thyme and rosemary and stir well

  8. Continue to cook on high heat until liquid has evaporated by half

  9. Pour in passata and tomato paste and mix well

  10. Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for an hour

  11. At about ½ hour mark make the polenta per the direction on the package

  12. When the polenta is ready stir in parmesan cheese

  13. Pour the polenta into an ovenproof pan and turn oven to high broil

  14. Broil until polenta is golden on top

  15. Sprinkle mozzarella on top of polenta and broil until melted and golden brown

  16. Take out of oven and let sit five minutes before serving with Tocio poured to one side


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