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Sunday, July 6, 2014

ITALIAN POLENTA (Moderate Difficulty)

·        4 cups water
·        2 cups milk
·        1 3/4 cup(s) Polenta (course ground cornmeal can be found in bulk foods)
·        2 cups cheddar cheese (or other as desired)
·        1.0 tbsp., Spices - Garlic powder
·        1.0 pinch, Spices - Salt, table
·        1.0 pinch., Spices - Pepper, black
·        ½ tsp red chili flakes (optional)
·        1 tbsp. olive oil
·        0.25 cup, Onion Raw Chopped 1/2 Cup
·        1.0 lb.(s), Beef - Ground, 80% lean meat
·        2.0 cup canned diced tomatoes
·        3.0 clove(s), Garlic - Raw
·        1.0 tsp, Italian Seasoning (oregano, parsley, thyme, rosemary & garlic granules)
·        3.0 cup(s), Cheese - Cheddar
DIRECTIONS
Polenta
1.      Pour milk & water into large pot and bring to a boil
2.      Add salt, pepper, and other spices into the water
3.      Spray oil on large cookie tray with lip and line with parchment or aluminum foil – spray liner as well until well covered – Note: Cookie sheets need to be large enough to make two identical squares to fill the top and bottom of your baking dish. If you don’t have a cookie sheet, you can use 2 casserole dishes the same size, or you can pour onto parchment sheets being careful not to over pour – I’ve also poured the first one on lined bottom of my casserole dish, then laid another sheet of parchment and poured the 2nd piece of polenta on that, but it doesn’t work as well.
4.      Slowly add polenta to mixture while stirring
5.      Stir for about 10-15 minutes until mixture gets very thick
6.      Add cheese and stir in until mixed
7.      Pour mixture into cookie tray and put into the freezer to cool (about 30 minutes)

Italian Filling
1.     Dice onion and sauté in olive oil until translucent (about 3 minutes)
2.     Add salt and pepper, chopped garlic and ground beef and cook until cooked through (about 5-7 minutes)
3.     Stir in salt, pepper and herbs and tomatoes and let simmer for about 20 minutes, or until sauce is thick. Remove from heat and set aside.
4.     When polenta is cold and easy to handle, put one square piece in bottom of casserole dish to fill.
5.     Add 1 cup of cheese and spread over polenta.
6.     Add 1 cup of sauce over the cheese
7.     Add another cup of cheese over the top then put in 2nd square of polenta on top.
8.     Spread remainder of cheese on top.
9.     Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
10.  Let cool for about 15 minutes and serve

Great with crisp green salad and/or chopped fresh tomatoes marinated in a vinaigrette of rice wine, olive oil, salt, pepper & garlic granules.