Mom’s Slow Braised Chicken Thighs with Mushrooms &  Cheesy Polenta

Got a soft spot for tender, slow braised chicken? This recipe is for you… and it couldn’t be simpler.

This Mother’s Day, my recipe comes straight from my mom! We were recently treated to a meal of hers, and I just had to get the details so that I could share her delicious creation.

Mom’s Slow Braised Chicken Thighs in bowl over cheesy polenta with bowls of pepper flakes and grated cheese in background

Super tender, fall apart chicken in a simple tomato mushroom sauce… if there were ever a recipe that deserves the spotlight on Mother’s Day, it’s this.

Why? With a long and low simmer, her recipe develops SO much flavor. Yet it’s no fuss and simple to make.

You will love it’s flexibility in timing! As we sat chit chatting away with my mom and dad, the chicken stayed warm on the stove, not particularly calling for anyone’s attention. Until, that is, we were ready to pay attention to it! Then the 7 of us fought over seconds :- )

It can simmer on low for 45 minutes, an hour, an hour and a half, you name it… just keep it super low, and keep an eye on the liquid in the pot so it doesn’t dry out. (The longer you simmer, the more tender the chicken becomes.)

Mom’s Slow Braised Chicken Thighs in saute pan on table with bowls of pepper flakes and grated cheese

Cheesy polenta, with its knack for absorbing flavors, is the perfect bed to ladle on the saucy chicken. You’ll love the flavor the hefty amount of grated parmigiano imparts. Make sure to buy dry polenta (a.k.a. corn grits) in a bag or box –  not the kind that comes in a tube that has already been cooked.

As a note, finer grain dry polenta will cook up more quickly than a coarse ground one, meaning you can get it going about 20 minutes before you’re ready to serve. You can’t overcook polenta though, and it will become softer and creamier the longer it cooks, so feel free to start it at the same time as the chicken. You’ll need to pay more attention to it, stirring every 10-15 minutes., and add an extra cup of water in the beginning so that it doesn’t dry out.

Wishing all the mothers out there a happy, healthy Mother’s Day weekend!

Close up of Mom’s Slow Braised Chicken Thighs over cheesy polenta

Are there substitutions?

  • Artichokes can be subbed for mushrooms, which I do for my kids. Make sure to use artichokes canned in water, not marinated. Drain well and add to the sauce toward the end of cooking. It will become more like a chicken cacciatore with the artichokes!
  • Your favorite starchy side, such as orzo, roasted potatoes, or crusty bread, can be substituted for polenta.
  • The recipe calls for boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but you can use bone-in if you prefer.

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Mom’s Slow Braised Chicken Thighs in saute pan on table with bowls of pepper flakes and grated cheese
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Mom’s Slow Braised Chicken Thighs with Mushrooms & Cheesy Polenta

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Servings: 4


  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves chopped
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms quartered or sliced
  • 6 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 ½ pound boneless skinless chicken thighs about 8-10 thighs
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • For the polenta:
  • 4 cups water plus more as needed
  • 1 cup fine polenta
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • ½ cup grated parmigiano plus more for passing at the table


  • Warm the olive oil in a large skillet with a lid. Saute the onion, bell pepper and garlic for 8-10 minute until the onion is transluscent. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and cook for another 5 minutes until they begin to soften.
  • If the mushrooms have given off a lot of their liquid, cook until it is mostly evaporated, then push them to the side of the pan and add the tomato paste. Cook the tomato paste for a few minutes, until it begins to stick to the bottom and becomes a deep red color, then pour in the chicken broth, pepper flakes, garlic powder and the 1 ½ teaspoons of kosher salt. Stir until the tomato paste is dissolved in the liquid, then add the chicken thighs. Partially cover and keep at a low simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes to an hour. If it starts to get too thick, add a little water or more broth.
  • About 20 minutes before you plan to serve the chicken, make the polenta. Bring the water and salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan and whisk in the polenta. Stir until it begins to thicken, about 3-4 minutes, then turn the heat to low, cover and let cook for 15-20 minutes. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom so that it doesn’t stick. Add more water if it is too thick and dry. When the polenta is fully cooked, stir in the cheese, turn off the heat and keep covered.
  • To serve, divide the polenta among 4 wide shallow bowls and spoon the chicken and sauce over top equally. Pass grated parmigiano and more pepper flakes at the table.

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  • allie says:

    5 stars
    So Nice Lex! Thanks for the recognition.
    Love you!! Mom

  • PAMELA Goldstein says:

    5 stars
    Alexis, Could we add some White Wine to the dish along with the Chicken Stock. This would only happen if it was an adults only meal. Or should it be Red Wine? Thank you. Jane

    • KeyLimeLexi says:

      Yes absolutely! You could go either way, red or white. Red will make it a little richer, more like a cacciatore. You could use up to 1/2 cup of wine in place of the stock. If you plan on cooking it really long, an hour and a half or so, just add the wine in addition to the stock – the liquid will cook off in the extended cooking time.

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