You know that dish, the one your Mom, Dad, Grandma made you as a kid? The dish that took away sadness, aches, hunger, a cold winters chill replacing it with a warm hug from the inside out? This post, is about a family with two versions of comfort food, American and Italian, Mashed Potatoes and Polenta.
In my house, comfort came in the form of Fried Chicken and Mashed Potatoes served with a side of what my Mom called “Chicken Savers.” A biscuit fried in the same pan as the chicken, capturing all the savory chicken seasoning and juices and delivering them in a crispy, perfectly fried bite.
When my Mom was a kid in Iowa, Chicken Savers made the meal stretch further for the farm hands, thus their name. Later, when I was a kid, Mom made them in memory of her Mother and because we, her two daughters LOVED THEM!
Nearly 30 years later, I can remember digging my crispy Chicken Saver into Mashed Potatoes heavily laced with real butter and then, that savory flavor bomb would hit. Oh, ok this is too much, I’m so hungry and my mouth is actually watering! Yeah, I’m that American and yes, I was that lucky as a kid.
As I told my Husband this story for the first time, he quickly brought up Polenta. My initial reaction, was “really? That stuff that comes in a tube?” I was dreaming of Mashed Potatoes and Crispy Chicken flavor, how could that possibly compare? Now it was Bello’s turn to say “really?!”
In response, he had my butter loving butt hiking 1,768 meters up a snow covered mountain to Refuge i Re Magi in Bardonecchia for my first steaming bowl of true Italian Polenta Concia.
It should be noted, Bello said “it’s a little steep for about :20 minutes, then it flattens out.” In reality, during that hour and a half hike, up a very, very steep incline, I found myself sweating through a winter coat thinking “I don’t even LIKE Polenta!”
Well, I found out quickly, I was dead wrong. At the end of that monstrous hike, while physically exhausted with freezing cold extremities, I tucked into a bowl so simple, yet so comforting and delicious I was an instant convert. Polenta can be pimped out just like mashed Potatoes with loads of butter, herbs or melty cheeses.
I now love Polenta as much as Mashed Potatoes, if not more. Well you know, unless you throw in a Chicken Saver, then I’m a Mashed Potato gal… or wait a minute. Lord help me I just thought of a new Comfort Food dish that’s sure to inspire another Recipe in The Making Series. Polenta Concia with Fried Chicken and Chicken Savers, yep that’s happening when I return to the US and can cook with my Mom.
Want More Polenta? Polenta at 8 Angell Street, A Homemade Tale