Polenta is a rustic dish that originates from Northern Italy and has always been considered a very humble repast. Polenta is made from ground cornmeal and can be served in several different ways. One such way is by fashioning polenta as the “center of the attention” by hosting a polenta dinner party. A large rectangular wood board is covered with parchment paper or a long slab of marble can be used to display the polenta and its toppings. A polenta party may be just be the thing to brighten up a ho-hum weekend evening this month. The following includes recipes for the polenta and toppings to create a delicious dinner party. Each recipe serves approximately 8 people. Bon Appetit!
1 package (3 cups) ground
12 cups of water
1 tbsp. salt
1/4 c. butter
1 c. grated parmesan
1/2 c. mascarpone cheese
1. Bring salted water to a boil.
2. Add cornmeal, bring to boil again then turn down and simmer on low. Stir constantly for about 10 minutes. It will quickly begin to thicken.
3. Place the lid on pot and leave to simmer on low for about 30-40 minutes, stirring every 8-10 minutes until desired consistency is reached.
4. Remove from heat, stir in cheeses and butter. Then serve or place in slow cooker on ‘ warm’ setting until ready to serve.
Beer-Braised Beef Barbacoa
Cooked in a mixture of dark beer and spices, this barbacoa is tender and delicious. It is also excellent with tortillas.
Serves: 6-8 servings
5 pounds boneless beef brisket or chuck roast
1 (12-ounce) bottle dark beer
1 large red onion, chopped
2 jalapeños, stemmed and sliced (remove seeds if you’d like it less spicy)
½ cup cilantro leaves
½ cup Italian parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
¼ cup fresh oregano leaves
6 cloves garlic
¼ cup blackstrap molasses
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
- Heat oven to 300°F and place roast in a large baking dish or roasting pan.
- Combine remaining ingredients in a blender starting with the beer (you may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your blender). Blend on high until all is pureed.
- Pour beer mixture over roast and move it around in the mixture to coat all sides. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and place in oven.
- Slow-roast the beef 3 hours, remove foil and return to the oven and let cook 30-45 minutes more or until the edges are browned and the meat easily pulls apart with a fork.
- Shred meat and mix with the sauce in the pan. Serve immediately with a generous sprinkling of Italian parsley leaves or let cool completely, cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
- To reheat: place meat and sauce in a shallow pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.
Spicy Sausage and Peppers
8 large peppers in colors of your choice
3 white onions, sliced
4 tbsp. olive oil
8 Italian sausage
2 tbsp. chili flakes (or to taste)
salt & pepper to taste
* note – you can use spicy Italian sausage and omit chili flakes
1. slice peppers and onions
lengthwise in similar thickness and set aside.
2. Cut sausages into ½ ″ slices. Cook on med-high heat on both sides until cooked and brown on each side. Remove from pan and set aside.
3. Heat oil in pan over med-high and add onions. Cook until clear.
4. Turn heat to medium and add peppers. Slowly cook and stir until peppers are almost cooked through.
5. Add sausages back in and cook together for 2-4 minutes.
in White Wine Sauce
4 lbs. of fresh mushrooms, diced
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. soy sauce
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 c. chardonnay
2 tbsp. dry thyme
fresh ground pepper to taste
1. Heat oil & butter in pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
2. Add mushrooms and toss to coat in oil/butter. Cook, tossing occasionally until 1/2 cooked then add soy sauce and thyme and toss.
3. Cook for another 2-4 minutes then add wine and cook until wine is almost all absorbed.
4. Remove from heat, add fresh pepper & serve.