This meal is perfect for cold nights. The chicken thighs are tender, rich, and super flavorful. The mushrooms have a great rustic meaty flavor and texture and help make this meal feel really filling and substantial. The wine adds a really subtle fruitiness and helps build depth, while the thyme adds a distinctive earthiness. Polenta is the perfect creamy complement to all the rich and solid flavor going on here.
When I first met my husband he was convinced that he was “allergic” to mushrooms. He had somehow lived his entire life believing that mushrooms, along with a few other foods, caused a very slight allergic tingle in his throat that (in his words) made him go “eh”. When he described the reactions to his “allergies” to me, I knew immediately that he was full of it. I myself have always loved mushrooms though, so I made it my mission to convince him that these food allergies were all in his head.
I was relentless. We had just started dating, so he didn’t yet know just how stubborn and determined I can be when I
think know I’m right, and he was eventually forced to give in to reason and logic. While he finally admitted that most of the foods in question were ones that he just didn’t like, mushrooms ended up being something that he decided were worth giving another try.
To my surprise (and delight) he ended up loving them! I don’t even really understand where he’d picked up the idea he didn’t like (or was allergic to) mushrooms in the first place, but now we eat them all the time! No throat tingle, no “eh”.
I think that adding mushrooms to a dish is an easy and affordable way to add a hearty richness to foods that might otherwise be bland and boring. I always find myself wanting to “beef up” my dinners with the meaty earthiness of mushrooms as soon as the weather starts to turn cold. As much as they’re kind of assertive and distinct, mushrooms also seem to be incredibly versatile and go with a huge variety of foods and flavors.
Back when I was single, and tended to spend more of my money on barhopping than recipe planning, I used to use mushrooms as a way to either stretch whatever protein I was cooking, or replace it altogether. When I was in the mood for something that felt sort of decadent and “fancy”, but didn’t have much time or money to spend on it, I loved to sauté mushrooms in butter and pile them up over some creamy polenta.
If you’re not familiar with polenta, you need to be. It’s super easy and cheap to make, and only takes about 20 minutes. It’s little more than cornmeal porridge, but the addition of chicken stock and a little butter and cheese make it somehow seem wonderfully rich and elegant. Creamy polenta tends to be the simplest and easiest preparation, but if you let it set up and get firm after cooking you can even slice it and grill, bake, or fry the wedges or sticks.
While white buttons used to have the mushroom monopoly, these days you have a few more options at the grocery store than that. While I do like their texture, I think that buttons tend to be a bit bland, so if you want to use them I’d suggest mixing them with another, more flavorful, variety. If you’re really into mushrooms and want to play with flavors and textures, go wild and use a mix of trumpets, hen-of-the-woods, and shiitakes (just be sure to remove the stems). Some of those varieties can be a bit on the pricier side though, so to get a big bang for a little buck I like to use a mix of creminis and portobellos.
The best part of this meal is how cheap and easy it is to throw together. You can have dinner on the table in under an hour, and everything that goes into it is super affordable. I’m sure I sound like a broken record here, but chicken thighs are my absolute favorite. Besides being cheap, they’re also way more flavorful than breasts and have a much nicer texture and don’t dry out when they’re cooked through.Print
Braised Chicken Thighs with Mushrooms and Creamy Polenta
The chicken is tender, with rustic mushroom flavor and wine, paired with creamy polenta and done in under an hour.
- Author: Tux Loerzel
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: Main
- 2 lbs (about 4 large or 8 small) chicken thighs, bone in & skin on
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 lb (16 oz) mushrooms, thinly sliced (I used a mix of cremini and portobello)
- 3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Generously season chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Coat each piece with flour in a small dish and set aside.
- Preheat a large cast iron skillet over high heat, melt the butter and add the chicken pieces, skin side down. Brown each piece for 5 minutes on each side and remove to a plate to rest. Add onions and mushrooms to pan and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until the mushrooms give off their liquid, and continue to cook over high heat until liquid is almost completely reduced, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in the wine and chicken stock. Gently press the chicken pieces down into the mushrooms, and add the thyme sprigs. Reduce heat to just shy of medium and let simmer until liquid is reduced and chicken is cooked through, about 20 or 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the creamy polenta. Heat the stock, water, & milk to a low simmer in a medium saucepan. Generously season with salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal making sure there are no lumps. Stir regularly until the polenta is very thick and creamy, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in grated cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
- Once chicken is cooked through, remove thyme sprigs. Spoon polenta into a bowl and top with mushroom mixture and some reduced liquid. Top with a piece (or two if small) of chicken.
Tux is a food blogger, photographer, dog lover, husband, and avid baker living in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Originally from upstate New York, he inherited his love of cooking and baking from his mother and grandmother. With the encouragement of good friends and several glasses of wine, he began his food writing and blogging adventure in the fall of 2013. Learn more about Tux at his blog Brooklyn Homemaker
This was delicious! Thank you for such a cheap and easy recipe. My only hiccup was that the temperature seemed a bit high for browning the chicken, but I think it was because I didn’t use a cast iron pan…(I put one on my wish list though) ;)
10/10 would make again
So I made this tonight. Sorry but it was not a big hit with the family nor myself. I think the chicken needed to cook a lot longer than stated which was my own fault for plating them without checking. Duh! It’s chicken…Nevertheless, the cooked for 25+ and they were still rather pink IMO. The flavors tasted ok and I especially liked the polenta and the mushroom onion mixture. I think would try this again only being certain to make sure the chicken is cooked through. I think Catie is correct…I might reduce the heat of the cast iron pan to a med-medhigh heat.
I usually tweak recipes but i was tired tonight so I made this one exactly as presented here.
It was wonderful. My husband is not a huge fan of either mushrooms or polenta, but he loved it too.
This one is a keeper.
This looks incredibly delicious!! Thanks for sharing! Definitely trying this autumn :) Was searching for some seasonal rich but simple dish!
Thank you for the fantastic recipe!just finished supper – even mother i law approved LOL…..
I love this recipe and tried it last night and it was the best thing I had ever made my bf said. The only think I did different was sous vide the chicken so it’s more juicy and tender. I tried the iron skillet with the butter and I think it didn’t get crispy so I added oil to make it more fried all around. Overall it was bomb.com. Loved it!
Gorgeous dish! FYI though, crimini and portobello are the exact same mushroom– portobellos are just criminis that have grown longer and so are bigger. ??
Made this tonight and it was sooo good. My chicken thighs were big so I put the skillet in the oven to cook it through. My hubby said “this is definitely a keeper!”
Agree on cooking the chicken through. I broiled to get the skin extra crispy.
When is the butter added to the polenta?
Made this tonight. OMG!!! Was EXCELLENT! Yum!
Even my picky husband liked it and asked to have it again. Definitely putting in my favorites cookbook.
Am I missing something? The ingredients for the polenta has 2 tbs butter but the directions don’t mention the butter?
This is a great recipe, and versatile too. It’s great made exactly as is, with deep mushroom flavor. But when I don’t have enough mushrooms I dice up a carrot and brown it along with the onions & mushrooms (and a minced clove of garlic). Fresh rosemary sprigs can sub for thyme. Sometimes I use half duck fat and half butter, which really crisps the skin. (A good way to ensure crispy skin: after the skin-side down thighs start to give off their fat, lift the thighs up and let the hot fat get underneath them, then finish the browning.)
So yummy and simple! Elegant enough for a dinner party but easy enough for a week-night meal. I loved how crispy the chicken got. I used sherry wine instead of white wine and the flavor was incredible. That’s the only tweak I made.
I’ve been making this for years now and it’s one of our favorites. Haven’t made it for a long time and made it tonight. We forgot how much we loved this dish. Don’t skimp on salting the chicken before browing, and get that heat up to not quite medium high on your cast iron to give the chix a good brown. You can always turn the heat down if the flour on the chicken starts to get too dark. Thanks again, Chef.
I’ve been making this delicious recipe for some time. It’s easy and the presentation is beautiful enough for a dinner party. Thank you for sharing this!!