Sunday, October 23, 2011

Best polenta ever from The Splendid Table

Chowhound's October 2011 Cookbook of the month is The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper. It's Italian food, which means lots of pasta and breads, but I got the book from the library anyway to see what all the fuss was about. There had to be something in there that a GF DF girl could eat.

In the end, I found less than 10 recipes that could be adapted to my diet. Tonight I tried two of them that looked tasty (Creamy Polenta and Bolognese Ragu), even though the total cooking time was 2 hours. That kind of cooking time is what weekends are for. Weekdays are for meals like stir-fry. Or mac & cheez.

The other reason I chose meals with such a long cooking time is that Eric and I are going through our semi-annual thermostat war. He has decreed that the heater won't go on until November 1, and I'm doing my best to stand by him on this because he's gone a little crazy since the water heater had to be replaced. Nevertheless, it's cold and I'm female. My hands and feet have turned to icicles even though I've got on a sweater, fuzzy socks and a snuggie. The only way to get through this weather is to keep on cooking until it gets warm again or I can turn on the heat.




Creamy Polenta (adapted from The Splendid Table)
3/4 cup stone-ground cornmeal
2 1/4 cups boiling water
1 cup vegetable stock



Fill a large pot with three-quarters full of water and bring to a boil. 
In a stainless steel bowl, whisk the hot water with the cornmeal until there are no lumps. Whisk in the vegetable stock. Cover the bowl with foil.

Set this on top of the pot of boiling water, making sure that the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl. Reduce heat to medium so that the water bubbling more slowly. Cook for 1 1/2 hours, stirring every half hour or so. Reseal the foil after stirring.


Ragu Bolognese (DF)
2 oz. pancetta
4-5 carrots, cut into small pieces
4-5 stalks of celery, cut into small pieces
1 onion, minced
1 lb. ground sirloin
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp organic tomato paste
3/4 cup vegetable stock
1 cup almond milk

Saute the vegetables and pancetta for about 10 minutes, or until onions and celery are translucent. Add the ground sirloin and cook until meat is browned, about another 5 minutes.

Stir in the wine and tomato paste. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 2 hours. The liquid mixture will reduce slowly this way. Add in the almond milk about 1/4 cup at a time. After 2 hours, the ragu should be moist, but not runny or have too much liquid.

The result is a rich, flavorful sauce that tastes wonderful over polenta.

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