PAN-GRILLED Chicken on Polenta with Summer Herb Pesto

There are many variations on classic pesto, the basil sauce from around Genoa, in Italy.Okay, they might not all be authentic, but many are no less delicious, especially if they are homemade. In this version, basil is joined by fresh thyme, oregano and chives, and the pinenuts are replaced by pistachios. If you have any pesto left over, store it in a covered container in the refrigerator, making sure there is a layer of olive oil covering the pesto to keep it fresh.

PAN-GRILLED Chicken on Polenta with Summer Herb Pesto

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    4 boneless, skinless chicken breasthalves, about 6 ounces each 1 1/4 cups basil leaves
    6 1/2 cups good-quality chicken stock 1 ounce oregano sprigs, leaves removed
    1 1/4 cups polenta 1/4 cup unsalted shelled pistachios
    Parmesan cheese shavings,to serve (optional) 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    2 tablespoons olive oil 1 clove garlic, crushed
    1 large garlic clove, sliced 2 tablespoons snipped chives
    1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon finely grated Parmesancheese
    10 long thyme sprigs, leaves removed sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


    Prep: 30 min Total:
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    • 1

      Put the chicken breasts between two large sheets of plastic wrap and flatten slightly with a meat mallet orthe end of a rolling pin; you want the breasts to have an even thickness. Mix together all the ingredients for the marinade in a large, nonmetallic dish. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then add the chicken. Turnthe chicken until it is coated and leave to marinate, covered, for about 1 hour in the refrigerator.

    • 2

      To make the pesto, put the basil, oregano, 4 thyme leaves and pistachios in a mini food processor and process untilfinely chopped. With the motor running, gradually add the oil and blend until it makes a coarse puree. Spoon the pesto into a bowl and stir in the garlic, chives and Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Leave to one side until ready to use.

    • 3

      To cook the polenta, bring the stock to a boil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan and rain in the polentain a steady stream, stirring. Turn down the heat and simmer, stirring regularly, for 25 to 30 minutes, until thepolenta is smooth and creamy and starting to come away from the side of the pan.

    • 4

      Meanwhile, heat a cast-iron, ridged grill pan and grill the chicken in two batches for about 5 minutes oneach side until cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan as each batch is cooked and cover withfoil. Leave the chicken to rest for 10 minutes while the polenta finishes cooking. Put the polenta on fourplates and top with the chicken. Spoon a little of the pan juices over and serve each portion with a largespoonful of pesto. Add a small amount of shaved Parmesan, if you like.

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