Chicken and Hot Sausage Stew with Polenta

A variety of peppers and hot sausage intensify the heat of this chicken stew, served over cheesy polenta.


  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Flour, for dredging
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausage with fennel
  • 1 small bulb fresh fennel, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cubanelle pepper, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 chili pepper, such as a Fresno pepper, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry white or red wine
  • 1 can Italian tomatoes (28 ounces)
  • 3 cups chicken stock, divided
  • A few leaves of basil, torn
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup quick-cooking polenta
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese


Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour. Heat a few tablespoons EVOO over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven and brown the chicken well, 5 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken to a plate, then add more EVOO and brown and crumble the sausage. Remove the sausage to a plate with the chicken.

Add the fennel, onion, peppers and garlic to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Let soften, 5-7 minutes, then stir in the tomato paste. Cook for 1 minute, deglaze with the wine, then add the tomatoes and 2 cups stock, breaking up the tomatoes. Add the reserved sausage and chicken back to the pot, a few leaves of torn basil and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally over low heat.

Bring the remaining cup of chicken stock and milk to a low boil in a saucepot. Whisk in the polenta and thicken for 2-3 minutes, then stir in the butter and the cheese.

Serve the polenta in bowls topped with the chicken and sausage stew.

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Rachael Ray