When we plan meals, we usually have no trouble coming up with the entre that will take centerstage on the table. But there’s always that moment– usually over lunch– when we have this conversation:Yuseff: What’s for dinner tonight? Me: I pulled the veal out of the freezer. I was going to make that Blue-Cheese Stuffed Veal that I made in Manchester. It was easy. Yuseff: What are you making with it? Me: Uhh…riiiiice? Or… a pot-aaaa-to?…. or… something tooootally different? *pause* Please don’t make me go to the grocery store. It’s so awful there and I’m trying to sneak in a nap.
For some reason, I never think ahead to the side dish. And it can get so boring to keep eating the same thing day after day. But let’s be honest, when you buy a box of rice or sack of potatoes, you have it for ever. For-ever. And since I’m always trying to cram 2 weeks of groceries into one trip I don’t always go for stuff like salads and veggies that go bad after a few days.
That’s when I remembered that I hadn’t made polenta in awhile. Polenta is so easy, so cheap, and for some reason feels really fancy even though it’s basically just Italian grits and was originally a peasant dish.
I usually make a rosemary polenta by Ina Garten, but I only have dried rosemary and it honestly feels like you’re eating pine-needles. I decided to go a different route and try out this recipe from Alton Brown.
It was super delicious and I was able to sort-of pan-fry it the next day (it was a massive failure in terms of presentation, but it still tasted pretty fantastic) and served it with balsamic mushrooms.
Step 1: Heat 2 Tbsp Olive Oil over medium heat and add 1 Tbsp minced onion (dried) and 1 heaping tsp minced garilc. Saute until soft.
Step 2: Add 4 cups (1 quart) chicken broth and turn up the heat to high. Bring to a boil. Slowly add 1 cup medium to course ground cornmeal while continually whisking. Cover the pot and lower the heat. Check on it and whisk every few minutes making sure to scrape the bottom so it doesn’t stick and burn.
Step 3: After 40-45 minutes it should be thick and creamy. Add 3 tbsp butter, salt and pepper to taste, and about 1/4 cup or so of parmesan cheese (I eye-balled it). Stir until everything is incorporated.
serve immediately while still hot
Step 4 (optional): Pour leftover polenta into a baking sheet and refrigerate overnight. The next day, Cut into triangles, brush with olive oil and grill or pan-fry.
This is where I failed– it totally fell apart on me. But if you get it to work, please give me the secret to your success!