Photo of Garlicky mexican chicken with ancho peppers and crispy polenta by WW

Garlicky mexican chicken with ancho peppers and crispy polenta

Total Time
50 min
20 min
30 min
This traditional Mexican-inspired dish is deliciously different. We love the use of polenta in place of tortillas. The chicken cooks in a nonstick skillet in a small amount of water with cilantro sprigs and garlic. To shred the chicken, let it cool completely first. Then use two forks to pull the chicken apart. You can also use a mixer to shred the chicken in a stand alone mixer. Turn the mixer on medium and it will shred the chicken with the paddle attachment. This dish makes an excellent one-dish meal.


Uncooked boneless skinless chicken breast(s)

1 pound(s)


oz, fresh, plus more for garnish (about 2 sprigs)


4 large clove(s), not peeled

Dried ancho pepper(s)

2 item(s), stems removed and seeds shaken out

Canned tomato sauce

½ cup(s)

Ground cumin

½ tsp

Table salt

½ tsp

Uncooked unenriched white cornmeal

½ cup(s), to make polenta

Cooking spray

2 spray(s)

Fresh radish(es)

6 medium, red, sliced

Uncooked scallion(s)

2 medium, sliced


  1. Place chicken in a single layer in a large nonstick skillet and cover with water. Add cilantro sprigs and 1 clove of garlic. Cook chicken breasts over medium heat until no longer pink in center, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and let cool; reserve liquid.
  2. Shred cooled chicken and set aside. Pour reserved cooking liquid into a bowl and add ancho peppers. Cover and soak peppers about 10 minutes.
  3. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add remaining garlic cloves and roast in pan, turning frequently, until blackened in spots. Remove to a small bowl and when cool enough to handle, peel garlic.
  4. Place peppers, garlic, tomato sauce and cumin in jar of a blender and blend on high until smooth, about 3 to 4 minutes. Pour mixture into a saucepan, add chicken and heat through.
  5. To make polenta, bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil; add salt. Slowly add cornmeal, stirring until smooth, about 6 to 8 minutes.
  6. Coat a 9 x 9-inch pan with cooking spray and pour polenta into pan. Smooth with a spatula. Allow polenta to firm up, about 1 to 2 minutes. Cut into 4 slices and remove from pan. Place polenta slices in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray. Cook on both sides until crispy, about 2 to 4 minutes per side.
  7. To serve, place one slice of polenta on a plate and top with 3/4 cup of chicken mixture. Garnish with cilantro, radishes and scallions.