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Padma Lakshmi's Crispy Chicken Thighs with Creamy Polenta

Padma Lakshmi's Crispy Chicken & Polenta
Padma Lakshmi's Crispy Chicken & PolentaNathan Congleton / TODAY

Chef notes

What could be more comforting than a plate of of creamy polenta with crispy chicken and a simple pan sauce? Dried herbs and spices and preserved lemon punch up the flavor in this satisfying dinner recipe from Padma Lakshmi. 


  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
  • 8 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 whole preserved lemon, diced, with seeds removed
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley



Preheat oven to 425°F.


Bring four cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Gradually whisk in the polenta (if you dump it all in at once it will clump up and be hard to make smooth) until it begins to thicken. Reduce heat to medium low and cook until soft and creamy, stirring often, about 30 minutes. Stir in butter and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


In a deep skillet, heat 1/4 cup olive oil, and brown the onions and garlic. Once the onions have softened, add the thyme, red pepper flakes, and persevered lemon. After 5 minutes, increase the heat and add the chicken stock. Once the stock has come to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. The sauce should be thick and reduced by half. Add the chopped parsley just before serving.


While the sauce is reducing, heat the remaining 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a large skillet and brown the chicken, skin side down, on medium high heat for about 10 minutes, until golden. (Don’t crowd the pan; work in batches if necessary.) Flip the chicken thighs and transfer to oven to finish cooking for 10-15 minutes, or until a thermometer reads at least 165°F.


Pour the sauce over the chicken and stir to incorporate the pan juices. Serve immediately.