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Five Spice Braised Short Ribs with Creamy Polenta


Five Spice Braised Short Ribs with Cream Polenta // Karista's Kitchen


When I dream about sitting down to the perfect meal, paired with the perfect wine, this Five Spice Braised Short Ribs with Creamy Polenta and a glass of Yao Ming 2013 Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon rings my dinner bell to the core. 

There is something so completely indulgent about sitting down to a plate of beef short ribs.  It’s on my Sunday supper menu at least once a month during the fall and winter months and for good reason.  Typically it’s a simple meal to prepare and it pairs deliciously with creamy polenta, rice or gnocchi.  I’m a huge polenta fan, so if I’m cooking, the side dish is creamy polenta. 🙂 Although this recipe is exquisite in flavor as well as presentation, it can be served as fancy or as casually as you like.

I created this dish with Five Spice Powder along with traditional aromatics and dry red wine because I felt the flavors could definitely live up to the bold notes of the gorgeous Yao Ming 2013 Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (and I adore Five Spice Powder). “The 2013 vintage will prove to be one of the most outstanding in Napa history, and this wine is one of the most artful expressions of the vintage. 96% Cabernet, 100% new French oak for 24 months. An absolute classic in the making”.

Five Spice Braised Beef Short Ribs with Creamy Polenta // Karista's Kitchen

I am completely in love with this wine.  Yes, they sent me a bottle to “taste test” for this recipe, and I was oh so happy to do that taste testing. Pure heaven. Ranger Craig and I sipped and savored every last drop of this wine.  So impressive and unlike any Cabernet Sauvignon my palate has ever had the pleasure of tasting. If you’re looking for that special gift for that special someone in your life or you want to add to your fabulous wine collection, this is the wine to purchase.

I hope your holidays have been joyous!  I wish you loads of love, delicious food and everything warm and cozy in life.


Five Spice Braised Short Ribs with Creamy Polenta

Serving Size: 4

Five Spice Braised Short Ribs with Creamy Polenta


  • 8-10 beef short ribs (I serve 2-3 short ribs per person)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup of corn starch
  • 2-4 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) or vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 rib celery, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice Powder
  • 2 small bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 bottle of dry red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • Chopped fresh cilantro or microgreens for garnish
    For the Creamy Polenta
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ -1 cup quick cook polenta (or according to package directions)
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
  • Season the short ribs with salt and pepper and then dust them with the corn starch. Place a Dutch oven over medium high heat and add 2 tablespoons ghee or oil. When the ghee/oil is hot but not smoking, brown the short ribs. You will need to do this in batches as placing too many short ribs into the pot at once will lower the temperature on the bottom of the pot and the short ribs won’t brown.
  • Transfer the browned short ribs to a platter and then add additional ghee/oil if needed to the pot. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook until the vegetables are wilted. Then stir in the garlic and cook for another minute or two.
  • Stir in the Chinese Five Spice Powder, bay leaves, tomato paste and bottle of wine, about 4 cups of wine. Add the browned short ribs back to the pot and liquid and then add enough beef broth to cover the short ribs completely.
  • Cover the Dutch oven and place it into the oven and braise for about 2 hours. After 2 hours check the beef to see if it is fork tender. If not, place it back in the oven for another 30 minutes and then check again.
  • Once the short ribs are done, remove them from the pot and strain the liquid. Put the liquid into the pot and then add the short ribs back into the liquid. Keep the short ribs warm over low heat while you prepare the polenta.
  • In a medium sauce pan over medium heat add the three cups of milk and two tablespoons butter, stirring occasionally until the milk comes to a boil. Then add the ½- 1 cup of quick cook polenta, depending on the package instructions. Cook the polenta for 3-5 minutes and then take it off the heat. Stir in the parmesan cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • To serve, pour the polenta onto a platter and place the short ribs over the polenta and then drizzle the sauce over the short ribs, or serve the sauce on the side. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro or micro greens.
  • Notes

    Braised beef short ribs are never short on flavor and remain one of the most sumptuous beef dishes one could serve. This recipe uses a fragrant Chinese Five Spice Powder along with traditional aromatics and dry red wine which lives up to the bold notes of this gorgeous cabernet sauvignon. The braised beef ribs are served over creamy polenta which balances flavor and texture for a lush and enticing meal.

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    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen vegetarian

    Crispy Polenta Bites

    Crispy Polenta Bites with Creme Fraiche, Balsamic Glaze and Fresh Basil with DaVinci Pinot Grigio


    There is an exciting new company in town and it’s called Little Lace Box!

    The Little Lace Box features a new accessory/product created by an up-and-coming designer sent directly to you every other month. Get it here first, a special fashion accessory for you and/or your home. Also included in your box is a selection of name brand and boutique brand products and discounts exclusively for the fashion maven inside every woman.

    Crispy Polenta Bites with Creme Fraiche, Balsamic Glaze, Fresh Basil and DaVinci Pinot Grigio

    I’m certain you’re wondering why I’m promoting this darling little company?  I think it a clever idea and I’ve signed up.  It’s also the company my brilliant and talented sister started.   Quite the fashionista herself (I’m totally not, unfortunately) my sister kept discovering new designers and the loveliest of products she and her three girls loved.  So why not share these products with everyone?  Thus, Little Lace Box was born.

    Of course, Little Lace Box will also be highlighting products for those of us who are kitchen-ware enthused.  Which is why I created this lovely little recipe for Little Lace Box.  A delightful and delicious nibble that’s almost fuss free.  Displays beautifully on your Hors D’oeuvres table, sitting in those gorgeous new serving dishes you’ve been wanting to use.  Or maybe a new serving board that’s become quite popular these days.

    Every box is a beautiful surprise.  Go to the website and view the latest list of new designers and the products that will fill each box.

    While visiting Little Lace Box website, don’t forget to like their Facebook page and Instagram for all the latest fashion and home accessory developments.  Big love and huge congratulations to my sis!  You rock!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Crispy Polenta Bites with Crème Fraiche, Balsamic Glaze and Fresh Basil


    1 cup quick cook polenta

    1/4 grated parmesan

    1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

    1 cup crème Fraiche or sour cream (crème Fraiche is a French sour cream, usually a bit thicker than our sour cream here in the states)

    1/2 cup good quality aged balsamic vinegar

    Handful of fresh basil

    Salt and pepper to taste


    Prepare the polenta to package directions.  Typically the brand I use is one cup polenta to three cups liquid.  I like to use an herbed vegetable broth for this recipe.  But half milk and water is also nice.  Gives it a creamier texture.  Just before the polenta is thickened add the 1/4 cup grated parmesan to the polenta. Season with salt and pepper if needed.

    Oil or butter a medium size baking dish, 8×11 or 9×13 work well.  Pour the warm polenta into the baking dish and smooth the top.  Let it cool completely.  If I’m making this for a dinner party I’ll prepare the polenta and refrigerate overnight and then finish the recipe before serving.

    Once the polenta has cooled, pop it out of the baking dish onto a cutting board or clean surface.  Using a small round or square cutter, cut bites out of the polenta.  I like these “bite sized” so a biscuit cutter is usually to big.  Once you’ve cut out as many small bites as you can, trim up the remaining polenta for test bites. 🙂

    Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add a few tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.  When the oil is hot but not smoking, pan sear both sides of each polenta bite.  Drain on a paper towel lined baking sheet or plate.

    In a small sauce pan heat the balsamic vinegar over low to medium heat and let it reduce by half, becoming thicker and more of a glaze.   I highly recommend pulling out the good balsamic vinegar for this recipe.  On occasion I can find a bottle of really good aged balsamic glaze that doesn’t have to be heated.  It’s already reduced.  I’ve found this at a few specialty markets, natural markets and Whole Foods.

    Next, take the handful of fresh basil, stacking each leaf one on top of the other and roll into a cigar.  Slice the ends into what is called chiffonade. I’ve included some photos at the bottom of the recipe.

    Place each bite on a platter or serving board.  Dollop or pipe crème Fraiche onto each bite.  Drizzle with the balsamic glaze and garnish with the basil chiffonade.  A sprinkling of sea salt on each bit is also lovely.

    Serve immediately.

    Basil Chiffonade

    Basil Chiffonade



    Karista's Kitchen Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood Shrimp vegetarian

    Spicy Pomodoro with Creamy Polenta

    spicy tomato sauce with pan seared shrimp over polenta

    Spicy Pomodoro with Pan Seared Gulf Shrimp over Creamy Polenta

    The Autumn fog has settled onto the valley landscape and created a halo of diffused light.  Intensifying the seasons colors and keeping just a little chill in the air.

    This is the time of year I pull out the heavier throw blankets and roam the house in search of the warmer socks and slippers.  Most of them in various unmarked boxes since our move.

    Even the dinner meals become spicier. Rich and flavorful tomato sauces lace the seasons dishes and create a welcome evening reprieve from the shorter and cooler days.

    spicy tomato sauce with pan seared shrimp over polenta

    Italian Inspired Spicy Pomodoro over Creamy Polenta

    This beautiful dish was inspired not only by the season but by my recent visit to Italy.  While pouring through delicious pictures of the loveliest people, mouth-watering food and soul soothing landscape, I knew I needed a spicy pomodoro over creamy polenta this week; and shrimp would make a lovely addition.

    If shrimp isn’t on your list of shellfish love, try serving this rich and satisfying sauce with roasted Autumn veggies.  It pairs well with roasted eggplant and zucchini as well as sautéed seasonal mushrooms.

    Top with plenty of pecorino Toscana and you just might think you were dining in Italy.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Spicy Pomodoro with Creamy Polenta

    Serves 4


    ¼ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil (I use California Olive Ranch Arbosana)

    ½ cup finely chopped onion

    2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced

    Pinch or two of red pepper flakes  (I usually add about 1/4 teaspoon) (also a smoked chipotle powder is a fun substitution)

    1  28 ounce can crushed tomatoes

    1 – 2 teaspoons tomato paste

    1 teaspoon sugar (if needed)

    1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or ½ teaspoon dried basil

    Salt and pepper to taste


    In a sauce pan over medium heat add the olive oil.  When the oil is hot add the onions to the pan and sauté until golden.

    Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté one minute longer.

    Take the pan off the heat (or you’ll be splattered with crushed tomatoes) and stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and basil.  Put the pan back on the heat and then bring the sauce to a very slow simmer.  Let it cook for about 15-30 minutes.  The longer the sauce cooks the richer the flavor.

    Stir in the sugar if the sauce is too “bright”.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with a little olive oil before serving.

    Add pan seared or grilled shrimp directly to the sauce and let the shrimp swim in the sauce for a few minutes to absorb those delicious flavors and then serve over creamy polenta (recipe below).  Garnish with plenty of pecorino Toscana or parmesan.

    Vegetarian:  Add roasted eggplant, red onions, zucchini, potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and anything else you think would be delicious.  Garnish with lots of cheese!

    Creamy Polenta

    3 cups whole or 2% milk

    2/3 cup quick cooking polenta

    ¼ cup grated Pecorino Toscana or Parmesan

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Heat the milk in a 4-quart saucepan, stirring as you bring it to a boil. While stirring, add the polenta. Reduce the heat to low and continue to keep the polenta at a simmer for about 5 minutes. Once the polenta has thickened, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the grated cheese. Lightly salt and pepper to taste.




    Beef Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes

    Beef Stracotto with Creamy Parmesan Polenta

    Italian slow braised roast beef with red wine and creamy polenta

    Italian Beef Stracotto with Creamy Polenta

    Years ago I met a lovely woman named Sianna.  An older woman, a wise woman and a woman whose every word I seemed to tuck away in the file drawers of my mind.  She was fascinating. Full of  adventurous life stories and snippets of wisdom that I’m sure she felt my ears needed to hear.

    Sianna, originally from Tuscany, sent me the most wonderful book; The Tuscan Year by Elizabeth Romer.   Written many years ago by the English Author who spent a year with a Tuscan family.  Elizabeth Romer documents each seasons harvest and the foods prepared in the region as well as the everyday life of the small Tuscan village.  If you love books about culture and food, this is a fun, and might I say delicious read.

    One of the recipes, a Stracotto, is a beef stew made with wine and herbs.  It’s braised until the meat falls apart and is almost overcooked, which is what “stracotto” means, overcooked.  But this is no dried out tasteless beef stew!  This Stracotto couldn’t be more decadent or simple.  It’s a rich, herby and full flavored Italian beef stew that is a perfect meal for a cold winter or spring night.

    Now in typical Karista’s Kitchen fashion, I’ve adapted this recipe to be easily recreated in American home kitchens.  It still needs to cook for quite a good length of time, but works well in a slow cooker or Dutch oven.  The Stracotto creates the most mouth watering scents in my house and anyone who walks in my front door can’t wait to eat!

    Enjoy this delicious taste of Tuscany!  Bon Appetito!

    Beef Stracotto with Creamy Parmesan Polenta

    Serves 6


    4 lbs Beef top rump or top side roast

    5 – 6 slices Pancetta (or 4 slices bacon), chopped

    1 large onion, chopped

    2 ribs celery, chopped

    2 carrots, chopped

    6-8 cloves garlic, thin sliced

    2 cups dry red wine (This dish taste best with DaVinci Chianti wine) Note: if using a slow cooker reduce wine to 1 cup.

    1 18 oz. jar Organic whole tomatoes (I use Jovial Whole Tomatoes) crush them just a bit with your hands.

    1 teaspoon dried Rosemary, crushed (or 1 stalk fresh Rosemary)

    ½ teaspoon dried Oregano

    ½ teaspoon dried Thyme (or 1 stalk fresh Thyme)

    1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian Parsley

    1 teaspoon black pepper

    1 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt


    Season the roast with salt and pepper on all sides and preheat the oven to 350F.

    In an oven proof Dutch oven or heavy stock pot on medium high heat brown the roast on all sides.  Transfer the browned roast to a plate and set aside.

    Turn the heat to medium and add the chopped pancetta.  Brown the pancetta until crisp and then add the onion, celery and carrots.  Cook the veggies until soft and translucent, and then add the garlic.  Cook for another few minutes.

    Sprinkle the veggies with the teaspoon of pepper and then add the wine, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pot.  Let the wine simmer for a minute or two and stir in the tomatoes.

    Add the dried herbs and chopped fresh Italian parsley and combine with the veggie mixture.  Let the mixture come to a slow boil and then place the beef back into the pot.

    Turn off the stove top, put the lid on the pot and place the pot in the preheated oven.  Cook for about 4-5 hours in the oven until the beef falls apart.  Check for seasoning, adding the teaspoon salt if needed.

    Serve the Stracotto over a Creamy Parmesan Polenta and serve immediately.

    Creamy Parmesan Polenta

    ½ cup quick cook polenta (I like Moretti brand) Or prepare according to package directions.

    3 cups whole or 2% milk

    2 tablespoons fresh grated parmesan

    Season with salt and pepper to taste

    In a medium stock pot heat the milk on medium.  Stir every once and a while so the milk won’t burn on the bottom.  When the milk comes to a slow boil, add the polenta and stir.

    Continue stirring the polenta until it thickens to a heavy creamy texture.  Take it off the heat and add the parmesan cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with the Stracotto or any beef or pork stew or use in place of pasta with a delicious ragu.

    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Seafood Shrimp

    Moroccan Spiced Shrimp with Polenta Cakes

    Moroccan Spiced Shrimp with Polenta Cakes

    Moroccan Spiced Shrimp and Polenta Cakes

    Fat Tuesday and Valentine’s Day… all in one week.   Boy, did those two events sneak up on me.

    Feeling like “Last Minute Karista”, I quickly planned my week’s menu and raced off to the market yesterday morning before the Andouille sausage could sell out.

    I know you’re wondering how Andouille sausage could ever possibly sell out here in Seattle.  I thought the same thing last year around Fat Tuesday.  I’m sure I dug through every type of sausage in my market’s meat cooler before asking where they hid the Andouille.  That’s when Mr. Meat Cutter told me my favorite brand of Andouille  sausage was sold out.  God help the Gumbo!  It just wasn’t the same without my favorite Andouille.

    As I walked into the market, I grabbed my food cart and power walked  to the back of the store.  I opened the cooler door and there sat the last two packages of my beloved sausage.  Phew!  Fat Tuesday will be a success.  The last ingredient to purchase was crawfish.   Of course, there would surely be lots of crawfish because who in Seattle eats crawfish.  Right?

    Behold devastation.  My fish market was completely cleaned out of crawfish.

    Moroccan Shrimp with Polenta Cakes

    Moroccan Shrimp with Polenta Cakes

    I can only imagine the look on my face as the two young fishmongers were wide-eyed and speechless.  I’m sure they were both wondering if I was going to have a meltdown in the fish market.  They tried desperately to make me feel better and promised more crawfish tails would be arriving soon.  In the meantime one of the fishmongers asked me if I could substitute.  Substitute? Normally I’m all over subbing, but this is Fat Tuesday dinner we’re talking about.  One. Must. Have. Crawfish.

    I quickly re-gained my composure and thanked the courteous young fishmonger for his help.  Feeling badly that I could hardly speak because they sold out of crawfish, I purchased fresh Gulf shrimp and my favorite Ahi Poke.

    Home with my purchases, I was now stocked with fresh produce, Andouille sausage, Ahi Poke and fresh Gulf shrimp.  So what to do with that beautiful fresh shrimp?

    I remembered a Moroccan shrimp recipe from Claudia Roden’s Middle Eastern Cuisine cookbook I wanted to try, and hoped I had all the ingredients on hand.  I didn’t.  But I’m an expert at subbing (unless it’s crawfish) and winged the recipe a bit.

    Score! This is now one of Ranger Craig’s favorite shrimp dishes, besides the shrimp taco’s of course.  A rich and spicy sauce glazing the flavorful Gulf shrimp and served on polenta cakes .

    A delicious dish that is filled with enticing and fragrant flavors.  The perfect recipe for a spicy Valentine dinner. 🙂

    Moroccan Shrimp with Polenta Cakes

    Serves 2-4

    This dish is also great as an appetizer.  Serve one shrimp on a mini polenta cake, trimmed with a small cookie cutter.


    1 lb large fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined

    2-4 tablespoons clarified butter or high heat oil

    Salt and pepper

    2 cloves garlic, minced

    2 teaspoons paprika

    1 teaspoon cumin

    1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

    1 teaspoon Harissa (a hot or spicy chili paste used in North African cooking.  It can be purchased at most markets, Whole Foods or a Gourmet specialty store, or you can make it at home.  If you don’t have Harissa or don’t have time to make it substitute with Thai Kitchen Roasted Red Chili Paste, a splash of Sriracha or pinch of red pepper flakes or Cayenne pepper.

    1 cup tomato sauce

    1/4 cup water

    1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro

    Quick cook polenta


    Prepare the quick cook polenta to package directions.  I like to add a little grated parmesan to my polenta and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Pour the polenta into a baking dish and let it cool.  Once cooled, cut out rounds of polenta with a 3″ cookie cutter.  Heat a little oil in a saute pan and pan sear each side of the polenta cakes, making them a little crispy on the outside.  Place on a paper towel to cool.

    Mix together the paprika, cumin, ground ginger and minced garlic and Harissa with a splash of olive oil.  Set aside.  Mix the water with the tomato sauce.

    In  large skillet over medium high heat add the clarified butter.  Sprinkle the shrimp with salt and pepper and when the butter is hot, pan sear the shrimp on both sides.  You may need to do this in batches.

    When each side is nicely golden brown and the shrimp are opaque, take the skillet off the heat and toss with the garlic and spice mixture.  Mix in the tomato sauce and then place the skillet back over medium heat just for a few minutes to let the sauce coat the shrimp.

    Place a polenta round on a plate and top with shrimp.  Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and serve immediately.

    For family style service, pour the quick cook polenta onto a platter.  No need to cut out and pan sear.  When the shrimp is done, ladle the shrimp and sauce over the polenta and garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.  Serve immediately.

    Kid Friendly Seafood Shrimp

    Oven Barbecue Shrimp with Sweet Potato Polenta

    Oven Barbecue Shrimp with Sweet Potato Polenta

    Louisiana is where I learned to love seafood. With dishes like fish crusted in chopped pecans and smothered in fresh crab and a lightly spiced white wine beurre blanc, dark and richly flavored seafood gumbo that’s been simmering for hours, and finger licking good crab and crawfish boils.

    Once I got a taste of Cajun cuisine, there was no turning back. My love of all things Cajun was born.

    My twin sis (Kristin) and me at Mardi Gras 1990. It was a blast!

    So when I found this recipe, I was over the moon excited. Cajun Barbecue Shrimp over Sweet Potato Grits.  I was hooked.  On everything except the grits.

    I like grits, but I like grits sweet with sugar and butter.  And that’s about it.  But… my food lovin’ mind got creative and decided a sweet potato polenta would be an excellent substitution.

    A tangy but spicy sauce, smothering fresh Gulf shrimp and then all that goodness ladled over sweet potato polenta.  Someone pinch me!

    Beautiful Gulf Shrimp

    The recipe did not disappoint. Even my little “I don’t eat fish” gal (Suzie Q) loved it.  And Tink raved about the sauce.  It’s a snappy little sauce that would taste just as good over chicken.

    I was hoping for leftovers. The shrimp flew right off the platter, with only a little sweet potato polenta for breakfast tomorrow.  I’m hiding it!

    Unfortunately there aren’t too many sneaky spots to hide food in the frig.  Too bad it couldn’t be stashed in my secret hiding spot for chocolate.

    Oven Barbecue Shrimp with Sweet Potato Polenta


    Serves 2-3 (can easily be doubled)

    2 lbs Gulf Shrimp (16-20 count), peeled with tail on and deveined

    ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

    ¼ cup chili sauce

    1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

    1 tablespoon lemon juice

    1-2 teaspoons Sriracha (Asian Hot Sauce)

    1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika

    Salt and pepper

    1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

    Sweet potato polenta (recipe follows)


    Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

    In a large bowl whisk together the butter, chili sauce, Worcestershire, lemon juice, Sriracha and smoked paprika. Toss in the shrimp in the sauce and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.

    Lightly oil a large baking dish and pour the shrimp with sauce into the baking dish.  Spread out the shrimp into a single layer.

    Bake the shrimp for about 8-10 minutes and just before the shrimp are done turn on the broil and slightly brown the shrimp.  Watch the shrimp carefully or they’ll burn.  (yes, I did this)

    Spoon the sweet potato polenta onto a platter or large bowl and pour the shrimp over the polenta.

    Sprinkle with chopped fresh thyme and serve hot.

    Sweet Potato Polenta

    Serves 4

    1 cup quick cook polenta

    2 cups water

    1 cup whole milk

    ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese

    ¼ cup shredded Gouda, Monterey jack or Swiss

    1 – 1 ½ cups mashed, baked sweet potato

    Salt and pepper to taste


    On medium heat, bring the liquid to a slight boil. Add the polenta and cook for a few minutes until it begins to thicken.  Take the polenta off the heat and stir in the cheese and mashed sweet potato.

    Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Quick cooking a sweet potato – slice a sweet potato in half and place cut sides down on a greased baking sheet.  Bake in a pre-heated 400F oven for about 20 minutes or until soft to the touch.

    Recipe adapted from Louisiana Cookin’ (A fabulous resource for all foods Cajun and Creole!)

    Chicken Kid Friendly Sauces, Salsas and More

    Chicken Thighs Braised in Rosemary, Garlic and Tomatoes

    Chicken thighs are one of the easiest meats to prepare, and this recipe couldn’t be simpler.  Brown the chicken really well and then let it braise slowly in lots of garlic, tomatoes and herbs. 

    If I’m grilling chicken breasts, sometimes I’ll prepare the sauce by itself, let it simmer for a while and then top my grilled chicken.  Ranger Craig loves this sauce over grilled fish or a cornmeal fried Rockfish.  However you decide prepare this recipe, it’s simple, fresh and delicious!

    I love this recipe with a side of Creamy Parmesan Polenta (there I go again with the polenta, but I just can’t help myself).  It seems polenta pairs well with just about anything, not to mention it’s delicious.  If you’re tired of polenta and want a change of pace, try a big loaf of crusty bread to soak up all the yummy sauce.  Or how about  herbed brown and wild rice or garlic mashed potatoes.   Spring veggies are arriving daily so make sure to roast some spring broccoli or spring asparagus.  Recipes for those fabulous sides are found under “sides” in the category box to the right. 

    Happy Cooking! 

    Serves 4-6


    6 large free range or organic bone in chicken thighs (or 8 smallish thighs)

    Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper

    1-2 tablespoons refined safflower or sunflower oil (high heat oil)

    1 medium yellow onion, diced

    8 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

    1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (I prefer Muir Glen fire roasted diced tomatoes)(or in the summer, 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes)

    ¼ cup good quality white wine vinegar

    1 large stalk of fresh rosemary

    Pinch of red pepper flakes or a dash of Tabasco


    Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.  Heat a high heat oil such as safflower or sunflower oil in a Dutch oven or heavy stock pot over medium high heat.  When the oil begins to get hot, place the chicken thighs, skin side down, in the pot and let them sear.  When the thighs lift easily and are a rich brown in color, turn them over and sear on the other side.

    When the chicken has been browned, transfer to a plate.  If there is excess oil in the bottom of the pot, remove all but 2 tablespoons. 

    Add the onions to the pot and sauté until translucent.  Add the garlic and sauté for a few minutes more. 

    Stir in the white wine vinegar and then the tomatoes.  Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper.  Stir in a pinch of red pepper flakes and then the rosemary stalk. 

    Place the chicken thighs back into the pot and bring the liquid to a boil.  Once the liquid has boiled, turn the heat down to a simmer and cover with a lid.  Cook for about 20 minutes and then remove the lid and cook for 15-20 minutes longer to reduce the liquid in the sauce and finish cooking the chicken.

    When the chicken is done, transfer the thighs to a platter and ladle the sauce over the top.  Garnish with fresh chopped parsley or grated parmesan.  Serve with creamy parmesan polenta or your favorite pasta. 

    OPTIONS:  If you’d like to prepare just the sauce, begin with sauteing the onions instead of the chicken.  Follow the remaining directions, only cooking time is decreased to about 20 minutes.  If the sauce is too thin, simmer a little longer without the lid. 

    Creamy Parmesan Polenta

    ½ cup quick cook polenta (I like Moretti brand)

    3 cups whole or 2% milk

    ¼ cup fresh grated parmesan

    Season with salt and pepper to taste

    In a medium stock pot heat the milk on medium.  Stir every once and a while so the milk won’t burn on the bottom.  When the milk comes to a slow boil, add the polenta and stir. 

    Continue stirring the polenta until it thickens to a heavy creamy texture.  Take it off the heat and add the parmesan cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.