Recipe of the week: Roasted Chicken Thighs and Squash over Polenta

For years, one of my go-to cooking blogs wasn’t a website like Smitten Kitchen or the Pioneer Woman, both excellent websites written from one person’s perspective, but the Kitchn (, which started as an offshoot of Apartment Therapy.

The website, which now boasts over 35,000 posts, covered every single detail of a kitchen, from which whisks were best for whipping cream to what "salt to taste" really means. Founder Sara Kate Gillingham and recipe editor Faith Durand have finally compiled some of the best tidbits of knowledge and recipes in a new cookbook, "The Kitchn Cookbook: Recipes, Kitchens & Tips to Inspire Your Cooking" (Clarkson Potter, $32.50), that will certainly be on my shelf for the days I don't feel like Googling.

Roasted Chicken Thighs and Squash over Polenta

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are an inexpensive cut of meat (even when organic and well-raised), and they’re just impossible to mess up. We like to roast them or grill them, and even when cooked a few minutes too long, they’re still tender and succulent. In this recipe, we roast them with cubed squash on a single sheet pan and make polenta while the oven does most of the work.

2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs

3 lb. butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 4 cups)

3 tsp. kosher salt, divided

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

8 garlic cloves, smashed

2 Tbsp. cider vinegar

1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 Tbsp. honey

1 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)

For the polenta:

4 cups water or chicken broth

1 cup coarsely ground cornmeal

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Aged balsamic vinegar, for serving

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Mix the chicken thighs and squash in a large bowl. Toss with the salt and a generous quantity of black pepper.

In a food chopper, small food processor or mortar and pestle, blend the olive oil, garlic, vinegar, rosemary, honey and red pepper flakes to create a thick sauce. Toss with the chicken thighs and squash, and spread in one layer on a sheet pan. Roast for 25 minutes, or until the chicken is browned and the squash is tender. The chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Remove the chicken and squash from the pan and place them in a serving bowl, covered with foil to keep the food warm. Carefully drain any juices left in the baking pan into a small bowl and reserve.

To make the polenta: While the chicken is roasting, heat 4 cups of water or broth to a boil in a 3-quart (or larger) saucepan. Add the cornmeal very slowly, whisking constantly. When the cornmeal is incorporated, turn the heat down to a bare simmer. The cornmeal should cook slowly, with a bubble plopping up to the surface every 30 seconds or so. Stir every 5 to 10 minutes. After about 20 to 25 minutes, the polenta should be quite thick and creamy. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the polenta in shallow pasta bowls, with a piece of chicken and a scoop of squash on top. Drizzle the plates with a few spoonfuls of pan juices from the chicken and a few drops of aged balsamic vinegar just before serving. Serves 4 to 6.

— From "The Kitchn Cookbook: Recipes, Kitchens & Tips to Inspire Your Cooking" by Sara Kate Gillingham and Faith Durand (Clarkson Potter, $32.50)