Thyme is one of my favorite herbs. The first dish I even made from scratch, chicken and dumplings, included thyme(with it’s favorite dancing partner rosemary). I was fifteen, and when I received those first rave reviews I was hooked. When I finally had my own place one of the first expenditures was a stocked spice rack. With my existing “confidence” in thyme, I ventured into a variety of homemade soups(all too appropriate for northern winters). It was awhile before I realized how truly flexible the herb was.
Thyme is an ancient herb whose uses have been many and varied. According to Wikipedia, throughout history thyme has been used for everything from embalming(by the Egyptians), as a source of courage(by the Greeks and in the Middle Ages) and to assure passage into the afterlife. It’s medicinal properties are varied, included antiseptic and anti-inflammatory traits(both of which explain why it’s a key ingredient in chicken noodle soup!)
But what we most know thyme for is its culinary flair. It’s an herb that plays well with others, blending its unique woodsy flavor in to form a backdrop against which other flavors are highlights. In my kitchen thyme is a key ingredient in a number of recipes ranging from pork bar-b-que to casseroles to soups and stews. I must admit, though, that I’ve never used this wonderful herb in its fresh state, though my husband has planted some for me this year! It stores well, so we’ve always used it dried(and bought it in bulk!).
My favorite recipe using thyme is a dish I call Polenta di Coniglio. Now, that quite simply translates to rabbit with corn mush, but don’t worry, if you haven’t the stomach for rabbit, chicken substitutes in quite nicely. This is one of those accidental recipes that happened when I started trying a new recipe and found that I didn’t have the tarragon it called for. So, I substituted thyme, fudged some of the other additions, and this lovely dish was born! We will honestly eat this once a week through the wintertime, and whenever the temperatures cool enough throughout the year that it won’t make us sweat 😉
Polenta Di Coniglio
- 1 large onion, chopped
- roughly 1/2 pound of boneless rabbit meat…or chicken 😉
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 ounces tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon dry thyme
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
Red Pepper spiked Polenta
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 2 cups water
- healthy dash of red pepper
- 1/8 cup Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
1. Saute onions until soft. Once onions are soft add meat and brown five minutes.
2. Add rest of ingredients, stir to combine and simmer 10 minutes or until sauce thickens and meat is cooked. Remove meat, cube, and return to sauce.
3. While sauce is simmering, prepare polenta. I make this in the microwave and it takes around 8 minutes. The cooking time will obviously depend on your microwave, though you can prepare this on the stovetop as well(combine all ingredients but the cheese and simmer until thick and bubbly. remove from heat and stir in cheese). For microwave cooking, combine all ingredients but the cheese in a microwave safe dish and cook for 6-10 minutes(that’s a guess), stirring halfway through. Add cheese after polenta is thickened.
4. Serve meat mixture over polenta and enjoy!
Now, on to the good stuff, the backyard hangout 😉
I have honestly encountered some of the most courageous people since dipping my toes into the world of erotica. People who saw me peeking from the shadows and encouraged me to enter their world, to join them in their illumination of the human condition.
So, in honor that, today’s tour is hosted at my bonfire pit. The seating is varied; Adirondack chairs, loungers, a hammock, camp chairs. It’s 4th of July weekend, so the normal fare is here to nosh on, dressed up with the guest of honor: herbed cheese spread and crackers, veggies and dip, fresh baked thyme rolls. There are wine coolers, hard cider, local beers and so forth in the ice buckets, and we’ll have some fresh strawberries from my plantings in the backyard for dessert.
Did you bring a dish to pass? No worries if you didn’t, there’s more than enough here to eat, but if you did, what are you treating us with?
We’re nice and secluded here, so we can talk about anything. No neighbors to worry about either. Maybe later we’ll all make the trek to the beach and watch the fireworks up and down the shoreline(maybe skinny dip a bit), but in the meantime, what shall we talk about?
Hmm. Let’s see, I think I’ve got a place to start. What was your first adventure outside your norm? Writing or otherwise? I’ve been pretty adventurous since reaching adulthood, but my first true stretch was all about surrender. It was with my husband(though long before he slid that ring on my finger) and it took a great deal of control to surrender. I never would have thought that was the case, but I had to make a concerted effort to reign in my need to manage, my need to be in charge, to yield. He’s still pushing my boundaries there 😉
Happy 4th of July(a day late), and please, everyone let your hair down, untuck your shirts, kick off your shoes, and relax!