Sunday, July 13, 2014

POLENTA CASSEROLE

IF CORNMEAL IS INVOLVED BUBBA AND THE CREW, DON'T REALLY CARE WHAT IT'S CALLED. COUNTRY FOLK LOVE THEM SOME CORN MEAL!!! ME ON THE OTHER HAND, I LOVE ME SOME POLENTA. THIS CASSEROLE DELIVERS COMFORT WITH CREAMY POLENTA AND A HEARTY TOMATO RAGU STUDDED WITH SPICY SAUSAGE AND EGGPLANT. I ALWAYS DOUBLE THE RECIPE SO I CAN FREEZE TWO CASSEROLES FOR LATER.

Ingredients:

  • 24 OUNCES HOT ITALIAN SAUSAGE, CASINGS REMOVED
  • 24 OUNCES GROUND BEEF CHUCK
  • 2 JUMBO ONIONS { 1 POUND EACH }, CHOPPED
  • 4 GARLIC CLOVES, FINELY CHOPPED
  • 2 CANS { 28 OUNCES EACH } WHOLE FIRE ROASTED TOMATOES IN PUREE
  • 2 SMALL EGGPLANTS { 1 POUND EACH }, CUT INTO 1/2-INCH PIECES
  • 8 CUPS WATER
  • 3 1/2 CUPS CHICKEN STOCK
  • 3 CUPS CORNMEAL
  • 1 TEASPOON SALT
  • 1 1/2 CUPS FRESHLY GRATED PECORINO-ROMANO CHEESE

Directions:

  1. IN A 6-QUART DUTCH OVEN, COOK SAUSAGE AND GROUND BEEF OVER MEDIUM-HIGH HEAT 5 TO 6 MINUTES OR UNTIL BROWNED, BREAKING UP MEAT WITH A SPOON. 
  2. WITH A SLOTTED SPOON, TRANSFER MEAT TO A LARGE BOWL.
  3. TO THE SAME DUTCH OVEN, ADD ONION; COOK OVER MEDIUM HEAT 8 TO 10 MINUTES OR UNTIL TENDER. STIR IN GARLIC; COOK 30 SECONDS.
  4. ADD TOMATOES WITH THEIR PUREE; HEAT TO BOILING OVER HIGH HEAT, BREAKING UP TOMATOES WITH A SPOON. 
  5. REDUCE HEAT AND SIMMER, UNCOVERED, 10 MINUTES. ADD EGGPLANT AND MEAT; COVER AND COOK 5 MINUTES OVER MEDIUM HEAT. 
  6. UNCOVER AND COOK STIRRING OCCASIONALLY, UNTIL EGGPLANT IS TENDER, ABOUT 10 MINUTES LONGER.
  7. PREPARE POLENTA: IN A MICROWAVE-SAFE-8-QUART BOWL, WITH A WIRE WHISK, COMBINE WATER, STOCK, CORNMEAL, AND SALT. 
  8. MICROWAVE ON HIGH 15 TO 20 MINUTES OR UNTIL CORNMEAL MIXTURE IS VERY THICK.
  9. AFTER FIRST 5 MINUTES OF COOKING WHISK VIGOROUSLY UNTIL SMOOTH; THEN WHISK 2 MORE TIMES DURING REMAINING COOKING TIME. REMOVE FROM MICROWAVE; WHISK IN PECORINO.
  10. MEANWHILE, PREHEAT OVEN TO 400 DEGREES. SPOON 2 CUPS HOT POLENTA INTO EACH OF FOUR 1 1/2 QUART SHALLOW FOIL CASSEROLES. 
  11. SPREAD POLENTA OVER THE  BOTTOM AN UP THE SIDES OF CASSEROLES. SPOON EGGPLANT AND MEAT FILLING OVER POLENTA. SPREAD REMAINING POLENTA AROUND EDGES TO FORM A RIM IN EACH CASSEROLE.
  12. BAKE TWO CASSEROLES 30 MINUTES OR UNTIL HOT. LET STAND 10 MINUTES FOR EASIER SERVING.
  13. PREPARE TWO CASSEROLES FOR FREEZING.

ACTIVE TIME: 40 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 2 HOURS
MAKES: 4 MAIN-DISH SERVINGS PER CASSEROLE