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Old 04-20-2006, 12:46 PM   #1
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Polenta Anyone?

I'm spending next weekend on the Oregon coast with the grandparents. My MIL is allergic to everything; milk, wheat, nuts, and much, much more. Understandably, she's a horrible cook. I've graciously offered to cook and I'm thinking polenta.

I love polenta, especially with vegetables. This is one of my favorites. The recipe is from memory and is of the "handful of this, dab of that" variety.

I'm always looking for new sauces for polenta. What do you all do? I'd love to hear from you.
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Stuffed Polenta

Polenta:
8 cups water, salted
2 cups corn meal
3 tbs margarine
cup grated parmesan cheese
lb mushrooms, sliced
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 lbs italian sausage, (use only half)
lb mozzarella, sliced or grated
Sauce:
cup dry red wine
1 medium onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbs dried basil
italian sausage (remaining)
4 cans (14 oz) diced tomatoes

In a large, deep frying pan over high heat, bring water and 1-2 tsp salt to a boil. Gradually stir in polenta. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting and cover. Cook, vigorously stirring (I use a whisk) once every 5 minutes until the polenta has lost its raw cornmeal taste and becomes soft and smooth. This takes about 30 minutes. Stir in the butter and parmesan
cheese Season with salt and pepper.

While the polenta is cooking, removing the casings and slice the sausages. I use a dulled knife, which turns the slices into little meatballs. Place the sausage in a frying pan, add 1/4 cup water, cover and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or so. Remove the lid and cook for an additional 15 minutes, until the water evaporates and the sausage is browned. Remove the sausages and pour off any excess fat.

When the polenta is ready, spoon of the polenta into a greased 9x13 casserole. Keep the remaining on the burner and covered. Layer the sliced zucchini, mushrooms and the cooked sausage onto the polenta and spread a layer of sliced mozzarella cheese on top. Add the remaining polenta and spread evenly with greased fingers (hot-ouch!). Bake in preheated oven at 350 for 30-45 minutes. The vegetables should be cooked through.

Deglaze the pan used to cook the sausage with cup of dry red wine. Add a medium diced onion and cook until translucent, adding 3-4 minced garlic cloves 1-2 minutes prior. Add 1 tsp dried oregano and 1 tbsp dried basil. Stir. Put in the remaining sausage and 4 cans (14 oz) diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes or so.

To serve, put a square of polenta on a plate and spoon sauce on top. In my recollection, you may want more sauce. We usually eat some of the polenta plain as it is also good without. Makes great leftovers.

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Old 04-20-2006, 01:16 PM   #2
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I've also enjoyed squares of polenta topped with a simple Gorgonzola sauce - just your basic white sauce with Gorgonzola melted into it.
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Old 04-20-2006, 01:21 PM   #3
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I've done that too, but white sauces have a tendancy to get lost. I had a mushroom and oil sauce at a local eatery that was heavenly, but my attempts to reproduce it have paled.
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Old 04-20-2006, 01:23 PM   #4
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[quote=vyapti]
---------------
Stuffed Polenta
"I use a dulled knife, which turns the slices into little meatball"s. quote]
Watch for advertisements with this pitch coming soon Dull knives for sale !

This recipe looks very elaborate(good); when I think of polenta all that comes to mind is my grandma 'okra and cornmeal' version, with escoveitch fish. I never paid much attention to cooking then so I never venture to cook polenta; because I'm very afraid of 'lumping it'...
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Old 04-20-2006, 01:41 PM   #5
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It's really not that hard. The key is very low heat and enough water. It takes about 1/2 hour and you can tell when it's done because the texture turns from gritty to smooth.

It will conform to it's container very quickly as it cools, so you can refrigerate it and cut slices to fry in butter or just eat out of the pan like oatmeal. It's so simple to make and always satisfying.
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Old 04-20-2006, 02:15 PM   #6
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Try cooking the polenta in the oven. Put cornmeal, hot chicken broth, salt and pepper in a casserole and stir well. You may add (depending on your MIL's tastes) butter or olive oil, herbs such as dried basil, oregano, thyme, etc. Cover the casserole and bake in a 350F oven for 30-45 minutes or until done to your taste. You may want to give it a stir once during the cooking. Because your MIL has food allergies, you may have to be careful about the sauces you use. A plain tomato sauce might work with a little Parmesan cheese or just serve with a pat of butter and maybe a little cheese. Sauteed veggies are always good over polenta as well as beef or chicken stew. I agree with you, it is great the next day for breakfast ~ sliced and fried with eggs or warm slices with butter and maple syrup. Have a good vacation and good luck with the meals!! (The "Stuffed Polenta" recipe sounds great!!!)
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Old 04-20-2006, 05:24 PM   #7
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auntieshelly, Ive posted this sauce hither and yon around this board, but I'll do it again 'cuz it's really good on polenta.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.

Heat 2 T olive oil in a medium heavy pan over medium heat. (I used my cast iron skillet.) Add 1-1/2 cups chopped onions and stir often, until lightly browned.

Stir in:
3 large or 4 medium red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and coarsely chopped
2 T minced garlic
1 T sweet paprika
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 to 1/4 tsp ground red pepper to taste

Cook for one minute more. Add:
1-1/2 cups beef stock and one cup water, or 2 cups water

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, partially cover, and very slowly simmer the sauce for 1-1/2 hours. Puree the mixture in a blender or food processor and season with salt and pepper (doesn't need the salt and pepper, IMO).
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Old 04-20-2006, 11:29 PM   #8
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most recipes for polenta and other boiled cereals call for bringing the water to a boil and then adding the grain, "taking care to stir out any lumps". why this has become the standard drill is beyond me.

the correct, lump-free approach is this:
- add your grain (polenta, grits, non-quick cooking oats, multi-grains, etc.) to the cold water. stir and then turn on the heat and bring to a boil. initially, it's usually ok to give it a quick stir once or twice a minute, while you deal with dishes or other things. after it begins to thicken, you'll want to stir constantly. most coarse grains are done about 5 minutes or so after reaching the boil.

- for polenta, add your cheese and butter towards the last minute or two.

- boiled grain recipes generally hover around a ratio of 1 part grain to 4 parts water. adjust up or down depending on how thick or how soft you prefer.
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Old 04-21-2006, 12:07 PM   #9
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Thanks, mudbug, for the recipe for Roasted Red Pepper Sauce. I have had it in restaurants, but have never tried to make it myself. Now, thanks to you, I'm going to give it a try. Sounds delicious! (Hopefully, vyapti will be able to use it when she cooks for her MIL.)

Philso ~ I agree with you. I cook cereals and polenta by starting them in cold water, broth, or milk. You're right ~ it makes for far less and most of the time, no lumps!! My suggestion above for cooking polenta in the oven uses hot broth simply to get the cooking process started faster. I have done the oven polenta many times with cold liquid, too.
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Old 04-21-2006, 01:22 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by auntieshelly
Thanks, mudbug, for the recipe for Roasted Red Pepper Sauce. I have had it in restaurants, but have never tried to make it myself. Now, thanks to you, I'm going to give it a try. Sounds delicious! (Hopefully, vyapti will be able to use it when she cooks for her MIL.)
I'm a boy! I'm not afraid to show my feminine side, though. I nearly cried when my beloved Seahawks lost the Super Bowl.

I do like the looks of that Red Pepper Sauce, though. I can't stand the marinated stuff you buy in the stores, but I love peppers. I may try to roast them on my own.
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