Friday, October 19, 2012

Osso Buco-Style Chicken

I hesitated to keep the title of this recipe. Osso buco literally translates as "bone with a hole" and - you guessed it - refers to the marrow hole in the veal shank typically used for this dish. You no doubt already know how horrific the veal industry is (and please remember that the veal industry wouldn't exist without the dairy industry), so it would be a shame to glorify a preparation that uses the flesh of baby male calves.

But, because I aim to veganize everything under the sun, I wanted to show that the osso buco preparation - which really refers more to the sauce of tomatoes, onions, carrots, and celery, and the gremolata on top, than to the meat - can be made just as well with Gardein chicken. I recommend the thin chick'n scalloppini patties from Gardein for this recipe, rather than the heftier chick'n breasts.

For the chicken:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 6 Gardein chicken pieces
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup cubed carrot
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped celery
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup vegan dry white wine
  • 5 cups chopped tomato
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
For the polenta:
  • 2 cups plain non-dairy milk
  • 1 and 3/4 cups vegan chicken broth (such as Imagine)
  • 1 cup uncooked instant polenta
  • 3/4 cup grated vegan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the gremolata:
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind 
  • 1 minced garlic clove
1. To prepare the chicken, heat 2 teaspoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Sprinkle the chicken pieces evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and the black pepper.  Add to the pan and cook for 4 minutes on each side.  Remove the chicken from the pan.

2. Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil in the skillet and add the onion, carrot, celery, and 2 garlic cloves; cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the wine, and scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits.  Stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, along with the chopped tomato, basil, and rosemary.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 15 minutes.

3. Return the chicken to the pan. Cover and continue to simmer for 35 minutes.  Uncover and cook a final 5 minutes - the tomato mixture should be thickened by now.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the polenta: combine the milk and chicken broth in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and gradually add the polenta, stirring constantly with a whisk.  Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the cheese and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Note: my pick for the cheese in this dish is the Gouda from Sheese. It has a nuttiness similar to Gruyere that works well with the polenta.

5. To prepare the gremolata, combine the parsley, lemon rind, and 1 garlic clove. 

Serve 1 chicken piece and 2/3 cup tomato mixture over 3/4 cup polenta in each of 6 shallow bowls, and sprinkle each serving with about 1 and 1/2 teaspoons gremolata.

Merlot is a great wine to pair with this dish. Try the one from Stellar Organics, which is certified vegan. Another great option, if you can find it, would be an unfiltered or vegan Montepulciano.

I love when my wine is friendly to vegans:

Nutrition Info:
6 servings (1 chicken piece, 2/3 cup tomato mixture, 3/4 cup polenta, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons gremolata), Calories 412 

Tasting Notes:
Unexpectedly, the polenta was my favorite part of this meal - creamy and rich and slightly nutty from the cheese. The gremolata was unexpectedly zesty - quite the bite from the raw garlic and lemon rind, but tempered perfectly by the rest of the dish. The rest of this was pure Italian comfort food, redolent with the warm, savory tomato, carrots, and celery, to the point where the chicken felt nearly superfluous. I might just serve the veggie component warm atop the polenta next time, for a simpler meal. I kept craving the salty pop of chopped kalamata olives as I ate, so even though untraditional, I recommend stirring into the mix.


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