Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Bolognese Polenta - Grow Your Own # 7

Polenta and pizza: two magic words! Travel anywhere in the world, even if you do not speak the language, and these simple words will put food on your plate. So, to celebrate the end of the cold season in the Northern hemisphere and the beginning of possible colder days here... I couldn't think of anything more comforting than the traditional italian dish: a Bolognese Polenta!

My mom used to make a lot of polenta when we were kids, like chicken polenta soup, fried polenta as appetizer and even a very soft sweet polenta which we had for breakfast or dessert.

My contribution to this month's Grow your own event at Andrea's blog has basil from my indoor garden. My dad makes sure I never run out of basil, he always sends me basil seeds and also dried basil!

Ingredients for hard polenta - from my mom's kitchen
1 cup yellow cornmeal or instant polenta
4 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 tablespoons onion, thinly diced
2 tablespoons canola oil

1) Combine the cornmeal and 2 cups of cold water into a large bowl and whisk, this will avoid lumps forming.

2) In large sauce pan, sauté onion over medium heat until translucent, add garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes more, until fragrant, do not brown. Add the remaining 2 cups water, boil, add salt and gradually stir in the polenta and water mixture.

3) Let the polenta and water simmer stirring frequently with wooden spoon to prevent sticking. It will take about 15 to 30 minutes until it's very thick, or 5 minutes if using the instant polenta. If it is too thick, add more water.
  • You know the polenta is ready when it pulls away from the side of the pan.
4) Grease a baking dish or ramekins with butter. Add the polenta. Let it stand a few minutes. Spoon your favorite sauce. Garnish with grated parmesan cheese, chopped parsley and fresh basil leaves.
  • The polenta will be creamy if you eat it right away and very firm for your next meal or if you let it set for 15 minutes while you make the topping.
Bolognese Sauce

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄4 cup finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1⁄4 cup shredded carrot
1⁄2 lb (250g) Italian smoked sausage, cubed or grated (remove casings)
1 lb (500 g) ground meat, preferably chunk
1 can (14-ounce/500g) peeled, crushed tomatoes with the juice
(or 1 can (6oz/180g) tomato paste)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Fresh basil leaves
Chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1) In a large sauce pan, heat extra-virgin olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and sauté over medium heat until the onions are translucent.

2) Add carrot, sausage and sauté for 5 minutes. Raise heat to high and add the ground beef. Break up any large lumps and cook until meat is no longer pink, about 6 minutes. Add parsley, basil and nutmeg.

3) Add the milk
and let it simmer gently stirring frequently. Then add the wine, let it simmer until it has evaporated, add the tomatoes and stir throughouly. Cook over medium low heat until the sauce thickens, for at least 1/2 hour. Check for seasoning. Serve hot over the polenta and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.


Peter M said...

What a unique and fabulous take on Polenta and Bolognese!

Patricia Scarpin said...

I love polenta, Cris, and so does Joao - if he sees this one, with his favorite sauce, he'll drool over the keyboard. :)

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Hey Cris! Great minds think alike - I just did an unconventional polenta for a foodie event!!! :)
I am gonna post it on Monday!

Andrea said...

This really looks fantastic! The sauce sounds like it would be perfect with the polenta. Thanks for sharing with Grow Your Own!

Sara said...

Wow, just what was looking for! Thanks for sharing.