Spicy Maple Mustard Chicken with Creamy Polenta

pan-roasted chicken thighs glazed in a spicy maple mustard sauce and served over creamy white cheddar polenta with butternut squash & wilted greens

servings: 4



Spicy Maple Mustard Chicken

  • 1 ¾ lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 (2 ½ lb) butternut squash, peeled + sliced ¼” (see notes)
  • 1 bunch swiss chard, stemmed + roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 red fresno chili pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • ¼ cup maple syrup

Creamy Polenta

  • 3 ½ cups water
  • 1 small handful fresh thyme sprigs (tied in kitchen twine)
  • 1 cup polenta
  • ½ lb sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 tbsp butter


  1. Let the chicken thighs sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes. Heat a 12” cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Season the chicken well with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  2. When the oil is hot, place the chicken skin-side down into the skillet. Cook for about 5 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low and continue to cook until the skin is golden and crisp, about 3 minutes longer. Flip the chicken and cook for another 5 minutes, or until cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
  3. Add the sliced butternut squash to the skillet over medium heat. Cook for about 8 minutes until caramelized, stirring & flipping the squash slices often so they don’t burn. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 5 more minutes. Add a 1/4 cup of water, cover the skillet with a lid, and cook for another 5 minutes or so until tender. Season well and transfer to a plate.
  4. Raise the heat to medium. Drizzle in a little more olive oil. Add the swiss chard and apple cider vinegar. Quickly saute for about a minute. Season well and transfer the greens to the plate of squash. Cover with foil to keep warm.
  5. Add the butter and chili peppers to the skillet. Allow the butter to melt and slightly brown as the peppers cook. Stir in the mustard, maple syrup, and remaining 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Bring the sauce to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and add the chicken back to the skillet, skin-side up. Simmer for 5 minutes to reduce the sauce and warm the chicken.
  6. Meanwhile, make the polenta. Add the water, thyme and a pinch of salt to a 2qt saucepan. Bring to a boil. Whisk in the polenta. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the polenta is tender, stirring often. Remove the thyme. Stir in the cheddar and butter until melted.
  7. Spoon the polenta onto a large platter. Arrange the squash, greens, and chicken over the polenta. Spoon all the remaining sauce over top. Garnish with any extra thyme leaves and more freshly cracked black pepper.


For the butternut squash: I find it easiest to first cut the whole butternut squash into half crosswise, right above where the squash rounds outward. From here, you can stand each half upright and use a sharp knife to cut off the skin. Then, cut each half in half again, this time lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds using a large spoon. Cut the top half into ¼” slices. Cut the bottom half down the middle and then cut it into ¼” slices from there (use the photo above for reference).